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Chapter 1

"Altogether, cavalry operations are exceedingly difficult, knowledge of the country is absolutely necessary, and ability to comprehend the situation at a glance, and an audacious spirit, are everything."

Maurice de Saxe
Mes Reveries, 1732

This chapter defines the role, organizations, and missions of cavalry; describes the Threat and the battlefield cavalry units can expect; and outlines the seven battlefield operating systems commanders must coordinate and synchronize.


Section I. The Role of Cavalry
Section II. The Threat
Section III. The Battlefield
Section IV. Missions
Section V. Organizations
Section VI. Battlefield Operating Systems

Section I. The Role of Cavalry


The fundamental purpose of cavalry is to perform reconnaissance and to provide security in close operations. In doing so, cavalry facilitates the corps or division commander's ability to maneuver divisions, brigades, and battalions and to concentrate superior combat power and apply it against the enemy at the decisive time and point. Cavalry clarifies, in part, the fog of battle.

Cavalry is, by its role, an economy of force. The flexible capabilities of cavalry allow the commander to conserve the combat power of divisions or brigades for engagement where he desires. The combat power of cavalry units, in particular, makes them ideal for offensive and defensive missions as an economy of force.

Cavalry serves as a catalyst that transforms the concepts of maneuver warfare into a battlefield capability. Maneuver is the essence of US fighting doctrine. Maneuver, in the tactical sense, is the swift movement and positioning of combat forces to attack an enemy's vulnerability, such as flanks, rear, lines of communication, service support capability, or isolated elements. Maneuver is the means to seize or retain the initiative, and to create or exploit offensive opportunities. Maneuver is also the means to concentrate superior combat power against the enemy at the right time and place. For maneuver to be successful, the commander must have a high degree of situational awareness. He must reduce the enemy, terrain, and friendly unknowns of the battlefield to fight effectively and to operate within the enemy's decision cycle. The successful execution of maneuver warfare continues to be the product of thorough reconnaissance and continual security. As the "eyes and ears" of the commander, cavalry provides the commander with situational awareness and enhances his ability to maneuver successfully.


Cavalry has historically served as a flexible multipurpose force. Capitalizing upon a significant mobility advantage over infantry, cavalry performed long-range reconnaissance and security for commanders. These missions gave commanders the ability to maneuver and concentrate forces on a battlefield for decisive battle. Once on the chosen field, cavalry continued to play key roles such as-

  • Close reconnaissance to detect enemy weaknesses.
  • Close security to protect the flanks or rear of the infantry line.
  • Countering enemy cavalry.
  • Counterattacking enemy infantry attacks.
  • Reserve.
  • Administering the decisive blow to a faltering enemy.
  • Covering retreat.
  • Pursuing a retreating enemy.

To perform these varied operations, European armies developed a highly specialized cavalry. The US never developed specialization on this scale. Faced largely with frontier operations during the nineteenth century and an unconventional threat, the US Army developed cavalry similar to European light cavalry.

European light cavalry was largely equipped and armed with sabers, carbines, and pistols. It focused on wide-ranging reconnaissance and security tasks. The US cavalry differences were a reliance on pistols and carbines versus bladed weapons and dismounted fighting once in contact with the enemy.

As modern weapons increased in range, precision, and lethality, horse cavalry lost much of its ability to perform these traditional roles. Traditional capabilities were restored with mechanization, which placed modern weapons on armored platforms. The tank assumed some of these traditional cavalry roles, especially those associated with armored cavalry. Modern cavalry, with both air and ground assets, began to focus on reconnaissance, security, and the flexible employment capabilities of nineteenth century cavalry.

A historical example illustrates the value of a flexible cavalry force. The operations of the newly organized Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the Gettysburg campaign were a substantial factor in the Union's success. For the first time, the Union Army was able to employ an effective cavalry force working directly for the commanding general of the Army.

In early June 1863, General Lee began moving the Army of Northern Virginia toward the Shenandoah Valley to invade the North. Fights ensued between the Confederate and Union cavalry. The Confederate cavalry attempted to secure the army's movement while the Union cavalry conducted reconnaissance to determine the Confederate's intent. These cavalry actions confirmed other intelligence on the movement of the Confederate Army, but did not reveal the intent of General Lee. Based on this information and orders from Washington, General Hooker began moving the Union Army north. After these fights, General Stuart took the bulk of the Confederate cavalry on a ride around the advancing Union Army and lost contact with General Lee.

Both General Hooker and his successor, General Meade, protected the approaches to Washington and Baltimore. Both commanders were forced to move in response to the Confederate Army. Recognizing the critical need for information, both commanders emphasized the need for the cavalry to provide "reliable information of the presence of the enemy, his forces, and his movements . . . ." At the same time, the cavalry was ordered to "guard the right and left flanks and the rear, and give the commanding general information of the movements . . . of the enemy in front."

On 30 June, the 1st Cavalry Division had a meeting engagement with a Confederate infantry brigade in Gettysburg. At the same time, the 3d Cavalry Division had a meeting engagement with General Stuart at Hanover, 12 miles to the east. General Stuart was repulsed and swung further north in his attempt to link up with the Confederate Army. General Lee felt the absence of his reliable cavalry reconnaissance and faced the Union forces of unknown size in the town. The Confederates conducted a reconnaissance in force with an infantry division the next day. General Buford, commanding the 1st Cavalry Division, recognized the decisive nature of Cemetery Ridge. He sensed from constant reconnaissance patrols in all directions the massing Confederate Army to his front. Thus, he determined the necessity to defend well forward, securing the decisive terrain for the approaching Union Army. His information and assessments were continuously reported to General Meade.

On 1 July, General Heth's infantry division attacked General Buford. The cavalry was armed with Sharps carbines, which were superior to the rifled musket. Fighting dismounted, he successfully defended against a much larger enemy until relieved by the infantry moving rapidly to his support.

On 3 July, during the preparation for General Pickett's charge, General Stuart attempted to envelop the right flank of the Union Army. He was met by General Gregg of the 2d Cavalry Division and repulsed.

Throughout this campaign, the Union cavalry was continuously conducting operations in support of the main body. They successfully covered the movement of the army, denied the Confederates information, maintained contact with the advancing Confederate Army, and continuously reported combat information. Once apparent that the armies were about to meet, General Buford transitioned into a defense, successfully securing the decisive terrain for the Union Army. Once the battle was joined, the cavalry continued to secure the positions of the army.


The fundamental purpose of cavalry on the battlefield translates into roles that cavalry performs for the commander (see Figure 1-1). These roles are not necessarily missions themselves, but are translated into mission statements by the regimental commander or the squadron commander. These roles may represent the intent of the corps or division commander when he assigns a mission to the cavalry unit.


Figure 1-1. Primary roles.

Provide Fresh Information

The corps or division commander's ability to seize or retain the initiative and concentrate overwhelming combat power at the right time and place depends on having fresh information about the enemy, such as his current dispositions, size, composition, direction of movement, and rate of advance. The precise application of combat power and effective synchronization of maneuver and supporting fires require a fresh and accurate picture of the enemy's current dispositions and activity within the area of operations. Concentration of combat power, through maneuver, also depends on the ability of divisions and brigades to move swiftly and predictably. Consequently, the commander must know which routes and cross-country terrain are suitable to maneuver forces into decisive engagements with the enemy.

To piece the puzzle together, the commander has a wide variety of intelligence assets available to him, such as national intelligence sources, military intelligence units, long-range surveillance detachments, aviation, combat electronic warfare and intelligence platforms, cavalry units, and any unit in contact. These intelligence collection sources facilitate intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), the target development process, and execution of ongoing operations. Many intelligence systems orient well forward of the forward line of own troops (FLOT) to identify enemy force concentrations and movements, as well as high-value targets whose loss may have a paralyzing effect on the enemy's ability to fight. The analytical control element at the division and regiment collates, analyzes, and disseminates this information to support planning of future operations and targeting for indirect-fire systems. This information serves as a basis for the commander to dispose and concentrate his forces for future combat operations. While this type of intelligence information is necessary, it is not entirely sufficient. Commanders need fresh, real-time information during the execution of current operations to be precise in the maneuver and application of combat power against the enemy. A major source of fresh information for the commander during battle is his cavalry.

Cavalry has decisive advantages over other intelligence resources because it-

  • Works through and counters enemy deception efforts better than any sensor system.
  • Provides the fastest, most reliable means of assessing terrain that the enemy is trying to configure to his advantage.
  • Is not a passive source. Cavalry not only finds the enemy but can further develop the situation and force the enemy to reveal more information.
  • Can more effectively disseminate information to commanders with an immediate need (eavesdrop, liaison officer).

Performing reconnaissance, cavalry provides the commander with combat information he needs to strike at the right place and time, such as the actual size and composition of the enemy, his exact dispositions, where he is strong, where he is weak, and where and when the precise application of superior combat power could have a decisive effect. Cavalry shows the commander where to move forces to ensure their uninterrupted advance to objectives despite battlefield conditions, such as impassable routes, blown bridges, unfordable streams, contaminated areas, refugee columns, converging friendly units, and enemy forces. At the decisive point, cavalry guides maneuver units into engagements with the enemy, assists in rapidly massing and dispersing maneuver units, controls routes and choke points, and monitors the movement of combat support and combat service support units.

Provide Reaction Time and Maneuver Space

A commander thinks and plans in terms of the time and space required to maneuver and concentrate subordinate units against enemy weaknesses. There are two ways to create sufficient time and space. First, he detects and comprehends enemy developments well forward of the FLOT in sufficient time to array forces. Second, he directs aggressive security actions that buy the time and space required for an effective response to enemy initiatives. Reconnoitering or performing security operations well forward or to the flanks of the main body, cavalry develops the situation and prevents the commander from fighting at a disadvantage-unwarned, poorly disposed, or not poised to fight. By virtue of where cavalry performs the mission, it provides time for the commander to assess the situation, determine a course of action, issue orders, and maneuver. Cavalry also provides space to maneuver divisions or brigades, creating flexibility for the commander to respond to unanticipated enemy initiatives. The amount of time and space provided may be determined by the commander's intent. It is defined by the assigned mission. Time and space are physically provided by where the cavalry unit operates relative to the main body and the amount of combat power available.

Preserve Combat Power

When fighting a bigger, echeloned enemy, sustainment and preservation of combat power are critical. Winning the current battle is only part of the fight. Performing security for the corps or division, cavalry protects and preserves combat power until the commander determines where to concentrate forces so they can be maneuvered into engagements with the enemy. During offensive operations, the cavalry prevents premature deployment and attrition of combat power before reaching the objective. In defensive or retrograde operations, cavalry provides early warning of enemy approach, destroys or repels enemy reconnaissance elements, and fights enemy lead elements as required. If required, the cavalry protects the main body from engagement under unfavorable conditions and prevents the commander from having to divert forces from his main effort.

Restore Command and Control

On a battlefield that is fluid and chaotic, with communications systems frequently destroyed or jammed, command and control within the corps and division is fragile. When communications are lost with subordinate units, or the commander is unsure of their location and situation, cavalry is particularly suited to restore command and control. Performing reconnaissance, cavalry finds and reestablishes physical contact and communications with subordinate units, finds dead spaces not covered by any unit, or fills gaps between units that could be exploited by the enemy. Cavalry reports directly to the corps or division commander on the status of subordinate units. Serving as liaisons, cavalry carries the commander's request for information or instructions to a subordinate commander when communications are lost. General Patton effectively used a cavalry group for this task in the Third Army during World War II.

Facilitate Movement

The cluttered and confused battlefield requires firm control of unit movements. The history of mechanized warfare demonstrates that the most frequent task a division performs is movement:

  • From port of debarkation to assembly area.
  • From assembly area to attack positions or defensive sectors.
  • During repositioning in the defense.
  • When conducting a counterattack.
  • When repositioning forces for the attack.

Cavalry units execute this task largely by performing reconnaissance. They monitor progress of subordinate elements for the commander. They man contact points and passage points, and coordinate with higher and adjacent units or headquarters.

Perform Rear Operations

The threat can attack throughout the depth of the battlefield. They do this simultaneously with an attack along the FLOT. Rear areas are not safe. FM 100-5 establishes the critical link between rear operations and the overall battle. When not employed in other missions, cavalry may perform rear operations tasks to supplement the capabilities of other rear area units/assets or to relieve combat units of contingency missions that may detract from their primary focus.

By performing continuous reconnaissance of rear areas, cavalry keeps its fingers on the pulse of rear operations. Cavalry identifies problems, performs area damage control after a major disruption, restores command and control, and facilitates movement of forces. Rear operations may also include serving as, or as part of, a tactical combat force.

Section II. The Threat

Cavalry units no longer face a single, monolithic, or well-defined threat. During the cold war, planning centered on confronting numerically superior armored opposing forces in Europe, the Far East, or Southwest Asia. Now cavalry units focus on conducting contingency operations as part of a force protection operation. Today's cavalry regiments and squadrons must be able to conduct these operations across the range of military operations (peace, conflict, and war) against threats ranging in size from major regional powers, lesser powers, and terrorist groups to insurgents.

Emerging regional threats are more diverse and less predictable than former cold war adversaries, but just as deadly. These threats reflect the more traditional threat concept such as armor, infantry, and artillery formations maneuvering on a battlefield with close air support and the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction. However, cavalry units may also be called upon to conduct operations in the midst of a nontraditional threat.

Cavalry regiments and squadrons may be among the first units to deploy into an area to conduct stability and support operations, or they could conduct these operations as part of the post-conflict phase of some other contingency operation.

With the diversity of the threat, the IPB process becomes even more important at the regimental and squadron level. No longer will the threat always fit into a neat time-distance scenario. Potential adversaries may use a variety of doctrine, tactics, and equipment. The staff supports the commander by conducting IPB throughout the entire operation.

Section III. The Battlefield


The potential operational environments facing the corps and division are war, conflict, and peacetime. Commanders apply doctrine with the operational environment foremost in mind. They design operations to meet the threat being faced. The states of peacetime, conflict, and war can exist all at once in the theater commander's strategic environment, requiring cavalry units to respond to requirements across the range of military operations simultaneously. Military operations in the three environmental states are classified as war and stability and support operations. (See Figure 1-2.)

Figure 1-2. Range of military operations in the theater commander's strategic environment.


Operations in this environment are characterized by mechanized, highly structured, weapons-and-firepower-intensive combat. This battlefield will be chaotic, intense, and destructive. The Army will not operate alone. In war, the Army will operate jointly with other services, agencies, and allies of the US government. Conventional doctrine and tactics as well as nonlinear, fluid, and even unconventional operations will be aspects of this battlefield framework. Distinguishing war from conflict may be a matter of scale. War will likely involve alliance warfare, full national mobilization, and national survival. Use of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons is possible.

Stability and Support Operations

Stability and support operations are divided into two states of environment: conflict and peacetime.


Conflict involves alliance warfare, full national mobilization, and national survival. Use of NBC weapons is possible. Conflict may be regional with a conventionally or nonconventionally equipped opponent. The environmental state of conflict may pit Army forces against irregular or unconventional forces, enemy special operations forces, and terrorists. Joint, combined, and multinational operations may be involved. The level of national mobilization and risk to national survival will not be as great as in war. Military operations in a conflict environmental state may be characterized as combat or noncombat and, like war, may cover the full range of stability and support operations and war.


The peacetime environment falls below the levels of war and conflict and is a diverse and varied environment. Military operations within the peacetime environment can range from counterdrug operations to disaster relief and national assistance. FM 100-23 provides guidance throughout the full range of peace operations, to include support to diplomacy (peacemaking, peace building, and preventive diplomacy), peacekeeping, and peace enforcement.


Joint task force, corps, and division commanders use the battlefield framework to help relate their forces to one another and to the enemy in time, space, resources, and purpose. The battlefield framework establishes an area of geographical and operational responsibility for the commander and provides a way to visualize how to array and employ forces against the enemy. The area of operations must be appropriate in size and design so the commander can accomplish his mission and protect the force. Corps and division commanders assign their area of operations into areas where they conduct deep, close, and rear operations. Commanders fight deep, close, and rear actions simultaneously in a manner that appears to the enemy as one continuous operation against him. They seek to attack the enemy simultaneously throughout the depth of the battlefield.

Additionally, commanders must maintain the capability to acquire and dominate the enemy within a given battlespace. Battlespace includes the commander's vision of how he will employ his assets and actions in order to dominate the enemy. The commander thinks in depth and visualizes how to engage the enemy simultaneously throughout the depth of the battlefield. Understanding and visualizing the effects of geography, terrain, and the appropriate use of all available assets, coupled with the visualization of the three-dimensional battlefield are critical aspects of battlespace. Battlespace can change as the commander's vision of the battlefield changes. Visualizing battlespace allows commanders to keep their options open, protect and sustain their forces, synchronize combat power, keep the enemy off balance, and set the conditions for a decisive victory.

The armored cavalry regiment (ACR) may execute close, deep, and rear operations. Squadrons generally execute close operations for the ACR commander, but could be tasked to participate in deep maneuver and rear operations as well. The close operations of each level of command include the close, deep, and rear operations of subordinate commands as illustrated in Figure 1-3.

Figure 1-3. Battlefield structure.

Close Operations

Joint task force, corps, and division close operations are the current battles and engagements of their subordinate maneuver units, together with their combat support and combat service support activities. Security and reconnaissance operations are part of close operations.

The outcome of close operations ultimately determines the success or failure of the battle. Deep and rear operations focus on creating the conditions favorable to winning the close fight.

Deep Operations

Deep operations are those activities directed against enemy forces not currently engaged in close operations, but are capable of threatening the success of the close operation. Deep operations typically focus on reserves and uncommitted forces. Objectives may include the following actions:

  • Limiting the enemy's freedom of action.
  • Altering the tempo of the battle in favor of US forces.
  • Isolating the close operation on advantageous terms by reducing the enemy's closure rate and by attritting, delaying, disrupting, or destroying specific elements of his force.

Cavalry supports joint task force, division, or corps deep operations by providing reconnaissance and security for deep maneuver. The ACR may conduct its own deep operations using the aviation squadron, electronic warfare, air interdiction, indirect fires, or other additional assets task organized to the regiment, such as special operations, long range reconnaissance patrols, multiple launch rocket systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) within the parameters of the joint task force or corps operation.

When the corps employs a security force forward of divisions, division responsibility for deep operations begins upon passage of the security force and battle handover. Corps deep operations continue regardless of the status of the security force (see Figure 1-3).

Rear Operations

Rear operations are those activities from the rear boundary of the unit to the rear boundaries of committed subordinate maneuver forces. Rear operations assure freedom of maneuver, continuity of sustainment operations, and continuity of command and control. During reconnaissance and security operations, the ACR may not have a defined rear area. During offensive and defensive operations as an economy of force, the ACR normally has a defined rear area in which rear operations are conducted. At squadron level, there is not a rear area. All squadron operations are part of close operations.


The ACR normally operates as part of a joint task force or corps to which it is assigned. It is the corps commander's "eyes and ears."

Corps Offensive Operations

The offense is the decisive form of war. The corps conducts offensive operations to either defeat, destroy, or neutralize the enemy. It is normally expected to defeat or destroy a designated formation of an enemy army's defense. Offensive operations gain freedom of action to allow swift transition from movement to contact to hasty attack, deliberate attack, exploitation, and pursuit. Additionally, offensive operations are undertaken to secure decisive resources, and to set up the conditions for future successful operations. A particular operation may begin or end at any point in this sequence. The ACR performs a number of missions for the commander that includes the following:

  • Covering force during the movement to contact.
  • Flank security along an exposed flank during movement to contact or deliberate attack.
  • Area security operations, to include route and convoy, within the corps area of operations.
  • Reserve during a deliberate attack to serve as an exploitation or pursuit force.
  • Offensive or defensive operations.
  • Special purpose operations, such as deception operations, rear area tactical combat force, reconnaissance in force, and raid.

Squadrons perform reconnaissance, security, offensive, and defensive operations as part of these regimental missions.

Corps Defensive Operations

The purpose of defensive operations is to defeat an attack and regain the initiative. The corps in the defense can be either force oriented or terrain oriented. The corps is expected to defeat threat formations ranging in size from an army to a multiple army front. The corps may be required to defeat each attacking army either sequentially or simultaneously. The ACR performs a number of missions for the commander that includes the following:

  • Defensive covering force.
  • Flank security along an exposed flank of the corps.
  • Area, convoy, and route security within the corps area of operations.
  • Defensive operations in an economy-of-force role.
  • Reserve initially or after a defensive cover to serve as a counterattack force or one prepared to lead a transition to offensive operations with offensive cover.
  • Special purpose operations, such as deception operations, rear area tactical combat force, spoiling attack, or raid.

Squadrons perform reconnaissance, security, offensive, and defensive operations as part of these regimental missions.


The cavalry squadron normally operates as part of the division to which it is assigned. The squadron is the division commander's "eyes and ears."

Division Offensive Operations

The division undertakes offensive operations to destroy the enemy and his ability and will to resist. Within a division offensive scheme of maneuver, subordinate units conduct a variety of missions:

  • Movement to contact.
  • Hasty attack.
  • Deliberate attack.
  • Deception operations.
  • Reconnaissance in force.
  • Security (screen, flank/advance/rear guard, area, convoy, and route security).
  • Defend.
  • Special purpose operations.

As part of this offensive operation, the squadron may perform a series of missions. Should the division conduct movement prior to contact, the squadron may perform the following:

  • Reconnaissance of movement routes.
  • Movement control tasks.
  • A variety of forms of reconnaissance and security operations as directed by the division commander.

As the division attack begins, the squadron may lead the main effort performing zone reconnaissance or advance guard. If the division commander elects not to use the squadron forward of the division, then it can screen or guard an exposed flank of the division to prevent surprise from enemy attack. Additionally, the squadron might screen the objective while the division reorganizes or consolidates. Depending on the squadron organization, guard missions may require augmenting the squadron with tanks.

Division Defensive Operations

The primary purpose of division defensive operations is the defeat of an enemy attack. Defense is a temporary state that creates the conditions for surviving the initial shock of the attack, stopping the enemy, and exploiting the initiative to go on the offensive. Within a typical division defensive scheme of maneuver, subordinate maneuver units perform a variety of missions. Some will defend in sector or delay. Others may counterattack or perform security missions. Some may defend in an economy-of-force role. A reserve prepares to execute counterattack contingencies or lead the transition to offensive operations. Deceptions, spoiling attacks, raids, and other special purpose missions are part of these operations.

Again, the squadron may perform a series of missions. Security missions will predominate. Initially, the squadron may screen or guard forward of the division. It may also serve as part of a covering force. Alternatively, the squadron may screen or guard an exposed flank. Subsequently, the squadron may operate out of the division rear area performing a variety of tasks.

Finally, the squadron may support commitment of the reserve. The squadron facilitates movement as a reserve repositions or moves. Upon commitment, the squadron may continue with the reserve performing reconnaissance or providing security.


Cavalry units, during war or stability and support operations, may operate as part of a joint task force to conduct reconnaissance and security missions. The combined arms nature and command and control structure inherent to cavalry organizations make them ideally suited to force packaging in support of various types of operations ranging from nation assistance to peacekeeping and peace enforcement.

Section IV. Missions

The primary tasks of cavalry, within the context of joint task force, corps or division operations, are translated into missions. Mission profiles reflect the predominant operational requirements placed on the unit. These mission requirements represent force design and capability objectives. However, some missions may require augmentation with additional combat or combat support assets. Mission profiles do not preclude the assignment of other missions required by a particular operational situation. (See Figure 1-4.)

Figure 1-4. Mission profiles.

These missions are grouped into general categories, but they are not mutually exclusive. Techniques and critical tasks of reconnaissance and security, for example, overlap. Offensive and defensive operations can occur as part of any other mission, especially cover, guard, and area and route security. Subsequent chapters will discuss each mission category.

No distinction exists in the mission profile between the armored and light cavalry. Cavalry units perform these missions in the conflict environment for which it was designed. When a light cavalry squadron is committed to a war or conflict environment, its capabilities need to match the increased requirements of these missions, given the factors of enemy and terrain.

The organization of the division cavalry squadron with air and ground troops produces a significant synergism in mission accomplishment. This benefit accrues when the squadron performs missions for the division. Missions may be performed sequentially during an operation. The squadron normally is not fragmented or assigned multiple simultaneous missions. Doing so produces squadron elements with reduced combat power and limited effectiveness. However, METT-T may dictate the need to attach or place a ground or air troop under operational control of a brigade to facilitate better command and control and the flow of information.

Section V. Organizations

Cavalry is organized in six basic designs:
  • ACR (armored).
  • ACR (light).
  • Armored division cavalry squadron.
  • Light division cavalry squadron.
  • Air cavalry squadron.
  • Separate cavalry troop.

These designs reflect the role of the cavalry unit and the organizational characteristics of the parent unit. Other field manuals supporting this manual discuss these organizational designs in detail. Table(s) of organization and equipment (TOE) structures are further modified by major commands to meet operational, equipment, and personnel considerations. Each squadron applies doctrine within the modification table of organization and equipment (MTOE) capabilities it possesses.


The ACR is a self-contained combined arms organization composed of armored cavalry squadrons (ACS), an aviation squadron, a support squadron, and separate combat support companies and batteries. The ACR is a separate unit that supports the corps or a joint task force. It is often reinforced by corps combat support units and divisional maneuver battalions. The ACR operates independently over a wide area and at extended distances from other units. The ACR is a highly mobile, armored force capable of fighting the fully mechanized threat in the environmental states of war or conflict. The ACR may be rapidly deployed to a theater of operations by sealift. When supporting a light corps, limitations may exist in corps support capabilities, strategic mobility, and terrain restrictions.

The regimental ACS is a highly mobile, armor-protected force. It consists of armored cavalry troops, a tank company, and a self-propelled artillery battery. The squadron usually functions as part of the regiment, but may operate separately for a short period of time, or as part of a joint task force or another unit. It is often reinforced by combat support units organic to or reinforcing the regiment.

The regimental aviation squadron (RAS) provides the regiment with combat aviation assets. It is organized with air cavalry/reconnaissance troops, attack helicopter troops, and an assault helicopter troop. The squadron adds a very responsive, terrain-independent combat capability to the regiment. The maneuverability and flexibility of the RAS enhance the combat flexibility of the regiment. The RAS may operate independently of or in close coordination with the ACS, or it may provide troops to the ACS.


The ACR(L) is a self-contained combined arms organization capable of being packaged and rapidly deployed by air or sealift as part of a force projection Army responding rapidly to world-wide contingencies. The role of the ACR(L) may be traditional, initial entry, or follow-on. The traditional role would support a US corps or task force through a reconnaissance, security, and economy-of-force capability. As an initial entry force, the ACR(L) would support Army or joint task force operations with credible force as a demonstration of US resolve. In the follow-on role, the ACR(L) will follow an opposed entry force (division ready brigade type) to expand the point of entry, to provide reconnaissance and security, and to serve as the initial combat-capable maneuver force.

Because of the command and control structure and support base within the regiment, it is a very modular organization capable of rapidly integrating armored forces into its task organization. This factor supports the army with a force package that can be tailored for the situation and expanded once it is deployed to a theater if the situation dictates the need for armored forces.

The ACR(L) is composed of armored cavalry squadrons, an aviation squadron, a support squadron, and separate combat support companies and batteries. The ACR(L) is a separate unit that supports the contingency corps. It is often reinforced by corps combat support units and divisional maneuver battalions. The ACR(L) operates independently over a wide area and at extended distances from other units. The ACR(L) is a highly mobile force capable of executing the full range of doctrinal cavalry missions against a comparable threat in the environmental states of war or conflict. It is also capable of stability and support operations in the environmental state of peacetime. When supporting a light corps, limitations may exist in corps support capabilities, strategic mobility, and terrain restrictions.

The organizational structure for the ACR(L) is similar to the ACR (armored) with some significant exceptions. These differences require modification of the tactics, techniques, and procedures prescribed for the ACR throughout the manual, and in some cases, deny capabilities ordinarily associated with the ACR. The following assets or capabilities are not organic to the ACR(L):

  • Neither the ACR(L) nor the ACS(L) is authorized a TAC CP.
  • The chemical company of the ACR(L) is not organized with a smoke platoon.
  • The engineer company of the ACR(L) is not organized with bridging assets. Organic assets do not include digital terrain database development.
  • The MI company of the ACR(L) is not organized with ground surveillance radar.
  • The aviation squadron of the ACR(L) is not organized with attack helicopter troops.

Limited ballistic protection offered by the high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV) and lack of organic tank assets require judicious application of standard cavalry doctrine. The ACR(L) is ideally suited for force packaging and employment by the contingency corps against a comparably equipped threat, but must be reinforced in accordance with the mission profiles in Figure 1-4 to defeat a modern mechanized or armored force.

The regimental light armored cavalry squadron (ACS[L]) is a highly mobile force. It consists of armored cavalry troops equipped with HMMWVs armed with a caliber .50 machine gun, an MK 19 grenade launcher, and a TOW missile launcher; a HMMWV-mounted TOW company; and a towed artillery battery. The squadron usually functions as part of the regiment, but may operate separately for a short time or as part of either a joint task force or another unit. It is often reinforced by combat support units organic to or reinforcing the regiment.

The RAS provides the regiment with combat aviation assets. It is organized with air cavalry troops equipped with eight OH-58D (Kiowa Warrior) helicopters and a UH-60-equipped assault helicopter troop. The squadron adds a very responsive, terrain-independent movement capability to the regiment. The maneuverability, firepower, and flexibility of the RAS enhance the combat flexibility of the regiment. The RAS may operate independently of or in close coordination with the ACS, or it may provide troops to the ACS.


The armored division cavalry squadron is a highly mobile, armor-protected force organized as part of the armored and mechanized infantry divisions. The squadron operates primarily in the environmental states of war and conflict. It may deploy into a theater by FAST (Freight Automated System for Traffic Management) sealift as part of a division, brigade, or joint task force. It consists of three M3/M1-equipped ground troops and two air cavalry troops equipped with OH-58D's (Kiowa Warrior). The squadron can expect to perform reconnaissance and security operations in conditions characterized as follows:

  • Fluid and continuous.
  • Mobile.
  • Wide ranging.
  • Firepower intensive.


The light/airborne division cavalry squadron is a highly mobile, lightly armed force organized as part of light infantry divisions. It consists of one HMMWV-equipped ground troop and two air cavalry troops equipped with OH-58D's (Kiowa Warrior). As part of the light infantry division, it may operate in any environmental state from peace to war. The squadron is deployable by air or sealift to a theater of operations as part of the division, or in support of a brigade or joint task force. This squadron possesses a significant tactical mobility advantage over the infantry battalions in the division.


The air cavalry squadron is a highly mobile, armed force organized as part of air assault divisions. It is also organic to those corps without an assigned ACR. It is equipped with air cavalry troops. The squadron is structured light to possess the same strategic mobility as the parent division. When deployed, the squadron possesses a significant mobility advantage over the infantry battalions of the division.


The separate cavalry troop is organized as part of separate light and armored brigades. The organization is based on the division cavalry troop TOE with a service support augmentation package. It is heavy or light depending on the organization of the brigade. It operates for the brigade commander in the operational environments for which the brigade is focused.

Section VI. Battlefield Operating Systems

Regimental commanders and squadron commanders must coordinate the seven operating systems and synchronize their activities in time, space, and purpose. The operating systems are listed below.
  • Intelligence.
  • Maneuver.
  • Fire support.
  • Mobility and survivability.
  • Air defense.
  • Combat service support.
  • Command and control.

The regiment is the only cavalry organization with an organic capability in all operating systems. Additionally, it is frequently reinforced with other assets. The regimental commander and his staff coordinate organic and supporting assets in close, deep, and rear operations. The commander influences the battle by assigning missions and terrain to squadrons, task organizing squadrons, applying force multipliers at the right time and place, assigning and shifting priorities of combat support and combat service support, and constituting and committing the reserve.

Regimental and divisional squadrons fight the close battle. Squadron is the lowest level at which firepower, maneuver, intelligence, and support are combined under a single commander. The squadron commander, supported by his staff, integrates organic and reinforcing assets to accomplish the assigned mission. He influences the battle by assigning missions and terrain to troops, task organizing troops, applying force multipliers at the right time and place, assigning and shifting priorities of combat support and combat service support, and constituting and committing the reserve. Squadrons normally fight enemy forces they can see and engage with available direct and indirect fires.

Troop and company commanders fight their assigned portion of the close battle with organic and supporting assets. These commanders seldom control elements of all operating systems, although they do integrate maneuver, fire support, and combat service support on a continuous basis. Because they are a key player in all operating systems, these commanders must understand the integration of the systems at squadron level, actively use the support available, and provide the information required by the squadron.


Cavalry units are a critical part of the higher commander's intelligence and electronic warfare (IEW) system in their reconnaissance and security roles. IEW is also important for the cavalry unit as well. The flow of intelligence down the chain of command is just as important as the flow of combat information up the chain of command. IPB is the centerpiece of intelligence operations. It plays a critical role in determining missions assigned to maneuver forces and focuses information-gathering assets, including cavalry.

Cavalry units operate in the front lines of the information war and are critical components of information operations. Ground and air scouts and ground-based and airborne sensor systems (EH-60 and UAV) are all players in gathering combat information within cavalry units. Commanders use this information for internal operations and pass it up the chain of command. Priority intelligence requirements (PIR) from the senior headquarters help to direct this effort.

The regiment has an organic military intelligence (MI) company possessing collection and jamming assets. The regimental commander uses these capabilities in close, deep, and rear operations. The regimental S2 integrates these assets with the capabilities of the squadrons.

Division cavalry does not possess organic IEW assets, but often receives IEW support from the division MI battalion. The squadron remains closely tied to the IEW system.


Maneuver is the movement of forces, supported by fire, to achieve a position of advantage from which to destroy or threaten destruction of the enemy. The maneuver elements of the regiment are the ACS and the aviation squadron. The maneuver elements of regimental squadrons are the line troops and the companies. The maneuver elements of divisional squadrons are the ground and air cavalry troops. The maneuver elements of troops and companies are scout, tank, and attack helicopter platoons. These elements execute the scheme of maneuver in the commander's concept and are supported by the other operating systems.

Aviation possesses terrain-independent movement, free of the restrictions imposed on ground units by obstacles or the terrain itself. During combat operations, however, many of the same terrain-imposed maneuver constraints that affect ground units also affect aviation units. The requirements of nap-of-earth flight, terrain flight hazards, and friendly and enemy situations all constrain aviation maneuver.

Maneuver units work in close coordination with one another and with combat support and combat service support units. Ground maneuver units normally focus on close operations. The aviation squadron provides a deep maneuver capability for the regimental commander.


Maneuver must employ overwhelming combat power to destroy or defeat the enemy on the battlefield. The fire support system provides a large portion of this combat power through employment of firepower from various fire support assets. The fire support systems available to cavalry operations consist of field artillery, troop mortars, close air support, army aviation, naval surface fire support, and in some cases, nonlethal electronic warfare.

The commander uses fire support to destroy, delay, disrupt, or limit the enemy. Fire support officers down to troop level assist the commander in planning and coordinating fire support. Fire support plans must be integrated and synchronized with the scheme of maneuver consistent with the commander's intent. To achieve this integration and synchronization, commanders, with the advice of their fire support officers, must think in terms of the total systems available.

The commander must allocate fire support to support his maneuver elements and to preserve his freedom of maneuver. Fire support is a key component of deep, close, and rear operations because of its range and flexibility in shifting and massing fires.


This system provides mobility to maneuver and supporting units, degrades the enemy's ability to maneuver, and provides fighting and protective positions to enhance personnel and equipment survivability. Commanders plan mobility, countermobility, and survivability operations as part of the concept to support the maneuver and fires of friendly units while degrading enemy effectiveness. Maneuver commanders ensure that these operations do not hinder the planned maneuver or fires of the unit. Every unit bears responsibility for aspects of this system. Survivability also includes the functions of deception, camouflage, operations security, and communications security that protect the force from enemy detection and attack.

Maneuver units can perform limited mobility, countermobility, and survivability tasks. Scouts in particular are trained to perform demolitions. Maneuver units also prepare to conduct combined arms breaching and fighting position construction.

Combat engineers provide expertise, trained personnel, and special equipment to perform these tasks. The regiment has an organic combat engineer company and division cavalry receives support from the division engineer battalion or brigade. Engineer commanders and leaders advise and support the maneuver commander. Combat engineers provide terrain visualization which is an integral part of the IPB process and plays a key role in any military operation. Within the spectrum of conflict, terrain analysts build an extensive digital database of the environment for each potential area of operations. They provide terrain information for all operations. They coordinate their operations with the affected maneuver unit commanders and the unit S3.

Smoke-obscurants can be used throughout the battlefield to enhance mobility, survivability, and deception. Large area smoke screens conceal vulnerable fixed sites, support maneuver, blind and deceive the enemy, and disrupt and isolate enemy second-echelon forces.

NBC defense operations are not a battlefield operating system, but a constant condition of warfare. NBC defense is integrated into all operating systems. All units on the battlefield prepare to operate under NBC conditions. Survival (individual and unit) and mission accomplishment are the objectives of NBC defense. This requires that units apply and adhere to the NBC defense fundamentals: contamination avoidance, NBC protection, and NBC decontamination. Protective measures begin at the individual soldier level. All units train and organize NBC teams for detection and operational decontamination. At squadron level, decontamination equipment is available. The regiment has an organic NBC company providing reconnaissance, decontamination, and large area smoke support.


Air defense operations are all activities that nullify or degrade the effectiveness of enemy air attack on friendly units or facilities. It includes passive and active measures. Passive measures are taken by all units and facilities to avoid detection and attack. Active measures are taken to disrupt, attack, or destroy attacking aircraft. Active measures include self-defense by attacked units and facilities, indirect fires, counterair by air defense units and by Air Force and naval aviation. The air defense system is integrated at theater level with operational nodes at corps, division, and regiment.

The regiment has an organic air defense artillery (ADA) capability. The division cavalry squadron does not. It receives support from the division ADA battalion either directly or by operating under an established air defense umbrella. The division cavalry squadron must remain aware of the coverage provided and be prepared to take appropriate action when moving out from under the collateral protection.

Army airspace command and control (A2C2) is an integral part of the Army's command and control system. Air defense is key in this critical function. A2C2 provides controls that are designed to synchronize the efforts of all users of airspace: Air Force, Army aviation, indirect fires, and ADA. This allows the commander to simultaneously apply the combat power of all systems. A2C2 is critical to the operations of cavalry regiments and squadrons. Dedicated staff officers serve to integrate the controls directed by higher headquarters with the operational requirements of the regiment or squadron. This is particularly critical when unit aircraft are flying out of the assigned zone or sector.


Combat service support (CSS) operations enable the unit to perform assigned missions on a sustained basis during combat. The tactical CSS functions are manning, arming, fueling, fixing, moving, and sustaining soldiers and their systems. CSS planning is an integral part of all operations planning and may have a significant impact on proposed courses of action.

The regiment has a support squadron that provides the bulk of service support to the regiment. The support squadron is the focal point of support execution and coordination with external support agencies. Regimental squadrons coordinate closely with the support squadron. The division CSS system supports division cavalry.

The regimental or squadron XO ensures that CSS is integrated into planning and ongoing operations. The primary CSS planners at regiment and squadron are the adjutant (S1) and the supply officer (S4). CSS executors within the squadron are the S1, S4, headquarters and headquarters troop commander, maintenance officers, and service support platoon leaders.

At troop and company level, the XO ensures that CSS is integrated into planning and ongoing operations and the first sergeant supervises execution. Troops possess limited CSS assets and rely primarily on the squadron for support.


The command and control system enables commanders to analyze information, make decisions, employ available assets, and sustain combat power. This system is the centerpiece of operations, integrating and synchronizing the other operating systems. It frees the commander to lead from a forward location where he can best see, hear, and influence the operation. The XO supports him as second in command, running the main command post and ensuring the integration of combat support and combat service support during the mission. The operations and training officer (S3) advises the commander on operational employment of the unit and translates decisions into orders. He also assists the commander in controlling the unit during the ongoing operation.

Commanders use standard military terms, symbols, orders, and reports to pass information and orders. SOPs ensure the information flow is concise, rapid, and clear. Face-to-face coordination is always done when possible. All subordinate commanders and leaders understand the commander's intent and concept. Subordinates act on their own initiative when the situation demands action to achieve the commander's intent.


Though not an operating system, the critical component of cavalry operations is the soldier. Battles are fought by soldiers, not systems. Commanders maintain the cohesion of units at all levels to maximize the trust that soldiers have in their leaders and in their teams. Commanders must ensure that effective training develops competent leaders and soldiers. They must consider the capabilities of their subordinates to develop plans that use units and leaders in their best capacity. Commanders use SOPs, enforce sleep plans and safety discipline, and pay attention to noncombat details that support the well-being of the soldiers. Leaders take every action possible to enhance soldier morale, health, welfare, and overall readiness to fight.

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