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Chapter 3

Strategic Responsiveness

Generally, he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits his enemy is at ease; he who comes later to the scene and rushes into the fight is weary.
Sun Tzu
The Art of War



Responsive Army Forces
     Attributes of Strategically
        Responsive Army Forces
     Considerations of Strategic
Force Projection Operations
     Force Projection Characteristics
     Joint Systems
     Entry Operations
     Security of Force Projection
     Intermediate Staging Bases

3-1.     Strategic responsiveness requires Army forces trained, organized, and equipped for global operations, and commanders and units proficient at force projection. Strategically responsive Army forces —including active component (AC) and reserve component (RC) forces based in the continental United States (CONUS) and overseas—generate and sustain maximum combat power at the time and place joint force commanders (JFCs) require.


Force tailoring is the process of determining the right mix and sequence of units for a mission.

3-2.     Strategic responsiveness imposes a unique set of dynamics on the US Army. The Army depends on assets apportioned by the National Command Authorities and allocated by the US Transportation Command to combatant commanders and JFCs. The combatant commander establishes the priority for movement of forces into the theater. That decision drives allocation of strategic lift and ultimately determines how rapidly Army forces deploy. Although US strategic lift assets exceed those of any other nation, the available lift is almost never enough to move large Army forces at one time. Consequently, commanders carefully tailor both the elements of the force and the sequence in which they deploy them to match theater conditions.

3-3.     The range of possible scenarios complicates training. Army forces cannot train for every possible mission; they usually train for war and prepare for specific missions as time and circumstances permit. The volatile nature of crises requires Army forces to simultaneously train, deploy, and execute. Commanders conduct (plan, prepare, execute, and continuously assess) operations with initial-entry forces, while assembling and preparing follow-on forces. To seize the initiative during deployment and the early phases of an operation, commanders accept calculated risks, even when the enemy situation is not well developed. Balancing these dynamics is an art mastered through study, experience, and judgment.

3-4.     Modernization will transform Army force projection capabilities. Contingency operations in the 1990s normally followed a sequence of alert, deployment, extended build-up, and shaping operations—followed by a period of decisive operations to terminate the conflict. Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm exemplify this sequence. The interim Army force now being developed will consist of lethal and highly mobile initial-entry Army units that will deploy, contain large-scale aggression, and shape the situation in the land area of operations (AO) for much earlier decisive operations. In smaller-scale contingencies, combinations of modernized brigades and forcible entry units will provide JFCs with decisive initial-entry capabilities. When fielded, the objective Army force will achieve the strategic responsiveness necessary to conduct nearly simultaneous deployment, shaping, and decisive operations in a manner similar to that of Operation Just Cause, but against more robust opponents. The Army is modernizing combat service support (CSS) capabilities as well. Improvements are underway to reduce the CSS footprint and replenishment demands by leveraging CSS reach capabilities. At the same time, the Army is investing in new systems that minimize support requirements and radically improve the manner in which it transports and sustains soldiers, equipment, and materiel.

3-5.     The payoff for mastering the art of strategic responsiveness is operational success. Fast deploying and rapidly expansible Army forces provide JFCs with the means to introduce an operationally significant land force into a crisis theater on short notice. Responsiveness provides JFCs a preemptive capability to deter adversaries, shape the situation, and fight and win if deterrence fails. Responsive Army forces provide immediate options for seizing or regaining the operational initiative. They complement and reinforce the other services with combat, combat support (CS), and CSS units that can be swiftly tailored, deployed, and employed to produce decisive effects.


Attributes of Strategically Responsive Forces

  • Responsive
  • Deployable
  • Agile
  • Versatile
  • Lethal
  • Survivable
  • Sustainable

3-6.     Seven attributes of strategically responsive forces drive programmatic and operational requirements. The Army is redesigning the force around them. Structure, equipment, and training—including deployment doctrine; power projection platforms; command and control (C2) systems; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems; and joint transportation systems—establish the foundation for responsive forces.

3-7.     Each operation is different: there may not be a single ideal deployment sequence that optimizes all seven force attributes. However, from an operational perspective, commanders train their forces to emphasize all seven. Upon alert, commanders tailor and sequence the force to balance the attributes while meeting JFC requirements.


3-8.     Responsiveness is an attitude that spans operational planning, preparation, execution, and assessment. It establishes the conditions for successful operational and tactical maneuver at the outset of operations. Responsiveness is more than the ability to quickly deploy: it requires that the right Army forces—those the JFC needs to deter an adversary or take decisive action if deterrence fails—deploy to the right place at the right time. Forward deployed units, forward positioned capabilities, peacetime military engagement, and force projection from anywhere the needed capabilities reside all contribute to Army force responsiveness.

3-9.     Responsiveness also emphasizes training, planning, and preparation for deployment. Commanders recognize that crises rarely allow sufficient time to correct training deficiencies between alert and deployment. They ensure that their units are prepared to accomplish their mission essential task list (METL) tasks before alert and to concentrate on mission-specific training in the time available afterwards. In addition, commanders emphasize individual preparation and equipment readiness. Finally, commanders review and practice alert and deployment plans and procedures, updating them based on lessons learned. They pay particular attention to the automated data used for deployment planning, ensuring that it accurately reflects unit organization and equipment.

3-10.     Responsiveness requires balancing the demands of readiness with the realities of day-to-day training. Commanders develop and implement mission readiness postures appropriate for their unit. They evaluate the mission of the unit and carefully design mission readiness cycles to match the required readiness posture.


3-11.     Army forces combine training, facilities, soldiers, and equipment to deploy with speed and force. Commanders view deployment as more than getting people and equipment on ships and airplanes; they visualize the entire process, beginning with the fully operational unit deployed in theater, and reverse plan to the unit's predeployment location. They include deployment details in standing operating procedures (SOPs). Plans focus not only on the sequence of actions but also on force packages for different scenarios. Deployment rehearsals occur as often as time permits. Commanders and subordinate leaders conduct reconnaissance of deployment facilities and routes, and review contingencies. They stress junior leader initiative and responsibility as essential during deployment. The intelligence community supports deployability through readiness and the ability to quickly collect information about the enemy or adversary, process it into intelligence, and disseminate that intelligence as relevant information.


3-12.     Agility is a tenet of Army operations as well as a responsive force attribute. A responsive, agile force package is one that is sustainable and mobile enough to accomplish the mission. Limitations on available lift compel commanders to balance competing mission requirements, in some cases developing innovative solutions. It also requires commanders to anticipate a full range of tasks and include capabilities to accomplish them. Finally, agile forces are mentally and physically able to transition within or between types of operations without losing momentum. Commanders develop this state of mind through tough, realistic training. Mentally agile commanders, staffs, and soldiers adapt force packages, strategies, and tactics to mission requirements in dynamic environments.

Responsive and Agile—Operation Uphold Democracy

The 1994 Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti demanded Army forces to demonstrate an extraordinary degree of agility and responsiveness. Months before operations began, the 82d Airborne Division prepared plans for a short-notice forcible entry into Haiti. Completed plans detailing the use of overwhelming lethal force to seize key targets awaited only a decision to execute. Then, on 19 September, with the 82d already in flight to execute the plan, word suddenly arrived that a last-minute diplomatic effort had succeeded in securing the permissive entry of US forces.

With the sudden change in conditions, the Haiti mission passed from the invasion force, which returned home, to the 10th Mountain Division, which began arriving in Port-au-Prince in a matter of hours. In addition, special operations forces (SOF) blanketed the country within a week. Active engagement of the populace quickly established a measure of trust that furthered both SOF security and the effectiveness of the mission. Meanwhile, although initial living and working conditions in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere were predictably austere, CSS forces responded rapidly as equipment and other resources poured into Haiti.

American agility notwithstanding, conditions on the ground in Haiti remained unclear. Joint Task Force (JTF) 180 commander, LTG H. Hugh Shelton, found himself in the unanticipated position of negotiating the terms of a transition of power and working with representatives of the very regime he had earlier expected to remove. In turn, JTF 190 commander, MG David Meade, worked to secure the cooperation of police and civil officials in the capital. Army forces responded flexibly to a highly fluid and ambiguous situation.


3-13.     Like agility, versatility is a tenet of Army operations. Army forces conduct prompt and sustained full spectrum operations with forces tailored to accomplish the mission. Versatility requires Army force packages able to reorganize and adapt to changing missions. Commanders carefully tailor and sequence forces into theater, making sure forces have the necessary C2, combat, CS, and CSS assets. Whenever possible, commanders deploy multifunctional teams. However, they understand that teams gathered from different organizations do not execute efficiently unless trained to work together. Thus, training emphasizes teamwork and adaptability. Commanders stress versatile C2 and practice reconfiguring headquarters to control multiple missions.


Elements of Combat Power

  • Maneuver
  • Firepower
  • Leadership
  • Protection
  • Information

3-14.     Army forces combine the elements of combat power to defeat the enemy. When deployed, every unit—regardless of type—generates combat power and contributes to the fight. From the operational and tactical perspectives, commanders ensure deployed Army forces have enough combat power to overwhelm any likely enemy. The art of strategic responsiveness requires that commanders balance the ability to mass the effects of lethal combat systems against the requirement to deploy, support, and sustain the units that employ those systems. Commanders assemble force packages that maximize the lethality of initial-entry forces consistent with both the mission and the requirement to project, employ, and sustain the force. They tailor and sequence follow-on forces to increase both the lethality and operational reach of the entire force.


3-15.     Survivability combines technology and methods that afford the maximum protection to Army forces. Lethality enhances survivability: lethal forces destroy enemies before they strike and can retaliate if necessary.

3-16.     Deploying commanders integrate sufficient force protection assets to ensure mission accomplishment. Engineer, air defense, and chemical units increase the survivability of deployed Army forces. As with the other attributes, lift constraints and time available complicate the situation. Survivability requires an astute assessment of operational risk. In many operations, rapid offensive action may provide better force protection than massive defenses around lodgment areas.


3-17.     Generating and sustaining combat power is fundamental to strategic responsiveness. Commanders reconcile competing requirements: On one hand, Army forces must accomplish JFC-assigned missions. On the other, they need adequate sustainment for operations extended in time and depth. Commanders tailor force packages to provide sufficient CSS while exercising every solution to reduce the CSS footprint. In some cases, commanders augment CSS capability with host nation and contracted support.


3-18.     Applying the art of strategic responsiveness requires mastery of the considerations of strategic responsiveness. These considerations complement and supplement the attributes of strategically responsive Army forces.


Considerations of Strategic Responsiveness

  • Anticipation
  • Command and control
  • Lethality of the deploying force
  • Force tailoring
  • Combat service support
  • Training

3-19.     Commanders anticipate future operations. They train their units for alert and deployment and prepare them for any likely change of mission. If units are assigned a peacetime region or mission focus, mental and physical preparation and planning can occur long before alert and deployment. The intelligence system gives commanders the ability to anticipate future operations by providing strategic through tactical indications and warning and maintaining intelligence readiness. Appropriate actions include initiating or adjusting mission- and region-specific training, organizing C2 for entry operations, conducting staff training, ordering and posting maps, studying available infrastructure, coordinating with appropriate agencies, and training deployment procedures. These actions allow units to deploy without additional training that may slow deployment.

3-20.     Decisions about size, composition, structure, and deployment sequence create the conditions for success in theater. Ideally, commanders identify potential decisions before the actual event. Prior planning develops options to meet possible situations. Exercises refine concepts and procedures. However, the nature of an operation can change significantly before execution. Commanders ensure that their plans and decisions do not foreclose options the deployed force may need later. Operational and tactical plans as well as the deployment process and flow need to be flexible enough to accommodate changes made after the alert. Other important decisions include-

  • Command and support relationships.

  • Prioritization of unit and equipment movement (see JP 3-35).

  • Transportation modes for early deploying units.

  • Reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSO&I) responsibilities and procedures (see JP 4-01.8; FM 4-01.8).

  • Plans for interacting with media and other civilian agencies and organizations.

Command and Control

3-21.     Strategic and operational commanders decide strategic aims, force requirements, force allocation, which organizations to mobilize and deploy, and when to do so. Seldom are these decisions clear at the outset. Mobilization, deployment, and employment occur simultaneously against a backdrop of fog and friction, challenging commanders to make timely decisions that set the basis for future success. Effective C2, equipment, facilities, intelligence, and procedures give commanders the support they need to visualize the operation, describe their vision to subordinates, and direct actions to implement their decisions. In particular, modern information systems provide commanders with a common operational picture (COP) that allows them to see and track forces from home station through arrival in theater to combat employment. The COP-which includes friendly, threat, and environmental elements-helps commanders make timely, accurate decisions about force sequence and direct resources and forces where needed by units in theater.

3-22.     Modular C2 enhances the commander's ability to tailor the headquarters for split-based-operations throughout the operation. For example, deployment may physically separate units from their higher headquarters and sister elements. A modular C2 structure allows the leadership of a deploying unit to retain command of the unit and control RSO&I in the theater staging base before employment.

3-23.     Commanders require home station, en route, and in-theater communications that are secure, reliable, and timely. Communications must be compatible with the mix of supporting forces and services in theater, including civilian agencies of the US government. Units establish communications with other organizations and services participating in the operation.

Force tracking is the identification of units and their specific modes of transport during movement to an objective area.

3-24.     Army and joint systems track forces and forecast their arrival in theater. Force tracking reports combat status to JFCs. It provides immediate and constant information about present and forecasted unit combat capability during force projection operations. Support units and staffs report unit movements, while operations staffs track them and report the build-up of operational capability. Force tracking requires a definition of readiness against which commanders can evaluate unit status and visibility of all assets required. JFCs normally define combat readiness based upon the operation or situation.

3-25.     Commanders visualize force projection as one seamless operation. Deployment speed sets the initial rate of military activity in theater. Commanders understand how speed, sequence, and mix of deploying forces affect their employment options. In turn, they see how their employment concept establishes deployment requirements. Commanders prioritize the force mix on the time-phased force and deployment data (TPFDD) to get forces in theater where and when required. They recognize that decisions made early in the force projection process affect employment throughout the JFC's campaign. Singular focus on the land component plan may result in the incorrect force sequencing. Active and continuous command involvement during all stages of force projection, coupled with detailed reverse planning, combine to ensure the right forces with the right support are available and ready to conduct decisive operations when needed.

Lethality of the Deploying Force

3-26.     An important strategic factor is the early introduction of credible, lethal forces into the theater. This action may quickly convince a potential enemy that further aggression is too costly. Initial-entry forces need to be interoperable and flexible enough to handle unforeseen circumstances. Initial-entry forces require enough combat power to establish and protect lodgments and begin simultaneous shaping operations immediately upon arrival. Doing this requires tailored and very precise relevant information. The ability to fight at the outset is crucial to the successful execution of the theater campaign plan. A tailored force with the capability to dominate situations early enables the JFC to seize the initiative.

Force Tailoring

3-27.   Army commanders tailor forces to meet specific requirements determined by the JFC and passed through the Army service component command (ASCC). Units identified for rapid deployment are tailored to mission requirements. They standardize, as much as possible, an initial-entry force package based on anticipated deployment requirements. These force packages consist of configured and basic loads that are included in the TPFDD. Units develop tailored load plans to match anticipated contingencies. These force packages include enough combat power to sustain and protect themselves for the short term, wherever they might go. Follow-on forces are tailored to meet specific concerns of the long-term mission.

3-28.     Generally, commanders tailor subordinate forces. For example, a corps commander may tailor a deploying division by augmenting its organic assets with an additional infantry brigade and two corps artillery brigades. During tailoring, commanders balance the combat power necessary to accomplish the mission with the speed of deployment to ensure the deploying force is operational and sustainable upon arrival.

3-29.     During mission analysis and force tailoring, commanders pay special attention to strategic lift, pre-positioned assets, host nation support, and theater support contracts. For an unopposed entry operation, for example, commanders schedule CSS, engineer, military police, civil affairs, and combat health support to deploy early, particularly if faced with limited host nation support and infrastructure. Faced with a forcible entry operation, commanders tailor their flow and mix differently, placing the right mix of combat units in the early deploying echelons. Commanders may find they need to substitute one type of unit for another or add units that have never trained together. This places a premium on early and continuous teamwork. Such teamwork, emphasized by visits and other contacts, builds the cohesion in the new team that is essential for mission success. Tailoring focuses on the vertical integration of the force; it ensures capabilities are matched in the proper combinations and sequence at each echelon. Tailoring the force includes force allocation, force augmentation, and force refinement.

3-30.  . Commanders tailor a force to ensure that its size and capabilities—especially C2 capabilities—are sufficient to accomplish the mission. This process begins with the combatant commander allocating a basic force. Normally, the basic force is a combat unit-a division, an armored cavalry regiment, a Special Forces group, or a combined arms maneuver brigade. In stability operations or support operations, however, the basic force may be a CS or CSS unit, such as a military police, medical, civil affairs, or water purification unit.

3-31.  . Force augmentation rounds out the basic force with specialized capabilities. Army force structure is designed so that at each echelon has a set of capabilities that augment it from the next higher echelon. Once the combatant commander allocates the basic force, the major Army command, in conjunction with the ASCC, augments it with the necessary supporting units. Figure 3-1 illustrates some representative echelons above division augmentations for a deploying division. Based on the mix of operations, these capabilities augment the organic capabilities of the basic force. They are not normally assigned to the division, although they may be placed under its operational control or in direct or general support to it.

Figure 3-1. Force Allocation and Augmentation

Figure 3-1. Force Allocation and Augmentation

3-32.  . The basic force and its augmentation forces are refined to account for the multiple constraints of the projected operation. Force refinement is a repetitive, continuous process that involves all Army components and members of joint and interagency organizations. It includes JFCs and representatives from the Department of State, Joint Staff, Army Staff, ASCC, ARFOR headquarters, and other involved government agencies. Force refinement involves METT-TC adjustments, force sequencing, and staff tailoring, and task organizing.

  • METT-TC Adjustments. Commanders analyze the basic force and its general augmentation using the factors of METT-TC—mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available, time available, civil considerations—to identify any changes necessary to account for the realities of the planned operation. Force allocation seldom produces an exact fit. Commanders refine the tailored force based on factors such as those in Figure 3-2. They apply the factors of METT-TC to the assigned unit organizations to determine necessary adjustments.

Figure 3-2. Allocation: Force Refinement

Figure 3-2. Allocation: Force Refinement

  • Force Sequencing. Commanders next compare the in-theater situation—in terms of the factors of METT-TC—against available lift to determine the appropriate deployment sequence. Balancing rapid response with the mix of combat power and resources that will accomplish the mission while protecting the initial-entry force is critical. Commanders seek a balance that provides protection, efficient deployment, and a range of options for responding to possible conditions. Lift availability is always a constraint, so difficult trade-off decisions are routine. For example, commanders often balance early deployment of combat forces against the need to deploy tailored CSS capability to generate and sustain combat power. Commanders and staffs keep in mind not only the priority for each capability's arrival but also its relationship to other capabilities. These relationships are key; changing the deployment sequence reschedules associated capabilities.

  • Staff Tailoring. Commanders tailor units and staffs, both in size and organization, to meet mission conditions. The standard peacetime staff may undergo significant changes in both size and organization to meet conditions. For example, the 1st Armored Division staff and headquarters underwent a dramatic transformation upon its commitment to Bosnia as the Task Force Eagle headquarters (see Figure 3-3). To gain the personnel necessary to round out the staff, a headquarters identifies requirements to its higher headquarters. This begins a series of requests that are either filled by the next higher headquarters or passed up the chain of command.

  • Task Organizing. Force tailoring is not synonymous with task organizing. While tailoring is a method to match force capabilities necessary to accomplish a mission, task organizing is the establishment of an organization with certain command relationships to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Figure 3-3. Staff Tailoring: Task Force

Figure 3-3. Staff Tailoring: Task Force

Combat Service Support

Factors Affecting CSS Operations

  • Enemy threat
  • Size of friendly forces
  • Maturity of the theater
  • Theater evacuation policy
  • Supported force's CSS needs
  • CSS infrastructure
  • Availability of in-theater supplies
  • Host nation support
  • Theater support contracts
  • Acquisition and cross-servicing agreements

3-33.     Generation of decisive combat power requires carefully balancing CSS assets with combat and CS assets. Achieving the right balance is an art; commanders attempt to maximize combat power while deploying only essential CSS capabilities. Too little CSS ties Army forces to their lodgment, unable to create and exploit opportunities. Too much CSS slows the arrival of combat power and leads to the same result. Likewise, accumulation of vast stockpiles of materiel and expendables may cede the initiative to the enemy.

3-34.     To estimate the appropriate force mix, commanders thoroughly review and understand the effect of CSS operations on generating combat power. Force tracking, asset visibility, intelligence preparation of the battlefield, and logistic preparation of the theater are essential to responsive CSS. Logistic preparation of the theater assesses the existing theater infrastructure, which greatly affects planning for both CSS and operations. The availability of ports, roads, and other assets affects the sequencing of units and tempo of entry operations (see JP 4-0; FM 4-0). Force projection may require intermediate staging bases (ISBs), in-theater lodgment areas (with associated intratheater movement capabilities), or joint logistics over-the-shore (JLOTS) operations (when port infrastructure is limited or nonexistent) (see JP 4-01.6). Contracted CSS to augment military capabilities or provide initial support must be preplanned and reflected in the TPFDD. Split-based and modular CSS operations may reduce the burden on the intratheater deployment flow and preclude maintaining unnecessary supplies in theater. Split-based CSS operations, enhanced with robust automation and communications networks, allows much of the CSS and distribution management structure to operate from an ISB or CONUS.


3-35.     Training is the linchpin of strategic responsiveness. Prior to alert, units train for wartime missions and conditions first. Unless directed otherwise, division and lower-level commanders develop battle focused METLs. When corps and higher-level commanders anticipate a stability mission or support mission, they may direct subordinate commanders to develop METLs to support employment in those missions. Leaders at every echelon conduct mission essential individual and collective training before and during deployment. Tactical commanders identify tasks that apply to all types of operations and ensure individual and collective proficiency in them. Commanders accept risk and defer training for some tasks until the unit alerts and prepares for deployment.

3-36.     After alert, Army forces conduct mission-tailored training and rehearsals. If time permits, commanders conduct mission rehearsal exercises (MRXs) to reinforce their vision and intent. A good MRX exposes units to conditions approximating those in theater. Commanders ensure that rehearsals are realistic and take full account of chance, friction, and ruthless, thinking opponents. Good rehearsals allow room for initiative and improvisation. Even when time is very short and resources scarce, commanders conduct some type of rehearsal, such as map-based or computer-supported virtual MRXs, with subordinates.

3-37.     Force projection operations vary in time, distance, and size but always include certain actions and functions. Most force projection operations include data preparation; planning; and rail, air and ship loading. These operations provide opportunities for multiechelon training. Training—to include rehearsals—begins at home station and continues throughout an operation, as the situation permits. Units also perform the coordination necessary to pass lessons to follow-on forces. Training to maintain readiness for future operations continues after hostilities cease.


3-38.     Force projection is the military component of power projection. It is a central element of the national military strategy. Projecting the force anywhere in the world involves AC and RC units, the mobilization base, DA civilians, and industry. Army organizations and installations, linked with joint forces and industry, form a strategic platform to maintain, project, and sustain Army forces, wherever they deploy.

3-39.     Force projection encompasses a range of processes: mobilization, deployment, employment, sustainment, and redeployment (see Figure 3-4). These processes occur in a continuous, overlapping and repeating sequence throughout an operation. Force projection operations are inherently joint and require detailed planning and synchronization. Decisions made early in the process may determine the success of the campaign.

  • Mobilization is the process by which the armed forces or part of them are brought to a state of readiness for war or other national emergency. It assembles and organizes resources to support national objectives. Mobilization includes activating all or part of the reserve components, and assembling and organizing personnel, supplies and materiel (see JP 4-05; FM 3-35).

  • Deployment is the movement of forces and materiel from their point of origin to the AO. This process has four supporting components: predeployment activities, fort to port, port to port, and port to destination (RSO&I) activities (see JP 3-35; FM 3-35 series; FM 4-01.8).

  • Employment is the conduct of operations to support a JFC (see JP 3-0 series; FM 3-100.7). Employment encompasses a wide array of operations including but not limited to—

    • Entry operations (opposed or unopposed).

    • Shaping operations (lethal and nonlethal).

    • Decisive operations (combat or support).

    • Postconflict operations (prepare for follow-on missions or redeployment).

  • Sustainment involves providing and maintaining levels of personnel and materiel required to sustain the operation throughout its duration. It is essential to generating combat power. CSS support may be split-based between locations within and outside of CONUS (see FM 4-0).

  • Redeployment is the process by which units and materiel reposture themselves in the same theater; transfer forces and materiel to support another JFC's operational requirements; or return personnel, equipment, and materiel to the home or demobilization station upon completion of the mission. Redeployment operations encompass four phases:

    • Recovery, reconstitution, and pre-redeployment activities.

    • Movement to and activities at the port of embarkation.

    • Movement to the port of debarkation (POD).

    • Movement to home station (see JP 3-35; FM 3-35).

Figure 3-4. The Force Projection Process

Figure 3-4. The Force Projection Process


3-40.     The objective of force projection is to conduct decisive operations so rapidly that the enemy is defeated before he can effectively confront US forces. That objective requires efficient and effective projection of Army forces. Taken as a whole, effective and efficient force projection exhibits four characteristics: precision, synchronization, speed, and relevant information. Commanders incorporate these characteristics into the conduct of force projection operations.


3-41.     Efficient force projection makes maximum use of available time and lift. Eliminating wasted space and time requires precision in every activity and each piece of data related to it. The effect of precision is far-reaching; its payoff is speed of deployment and increased combat power in theater. Precise deployment equipment lists, for example, allow correct lift assets to be quickly assigned against requirements. Precision in loading increases departure speed and safety. Precision in meeting the JFC's time line supports the concept of employment. Up-to-date doctrine, realistic training, an adequate support structure, and timely enablers provide the framework for precision.


3-42.     Commanders synchronize deployment activities. Resources—lift assets, enablers, time, and information—are scarce. Effective synchronization produces maximum use of every resource. Synchronization normally requires explicit coordination among deploying forces and staffs, supporting units and staffs, a variety of civilian agencies, and the other services. Frequent and realistic joint exercises and training are the key to successful synchronization.


3-43.     Commanders view force projection as a race between friendly forces and the enemy or situation. The side that achieves a decisive operational capability first seizes the initiative. Thus, it is not the velocity of individual stages or transportation means that is decisive; it is the combat ready force deployed in theater before the enemy is ready or the situation gets out of control.

3-44.     Speed is more than miles per hour: it is the sustained momentum achieved with the complete complement of joint lift assets. The volume steadily delivered by ship can often outpace the pieces delivered by air in terms of operational capability. Speed is also the velocity of the entire force projection process, from planning to force closure. It depends on many factors, to include maximizing the other force projection characteristics. Some factors are established before deployment starts. Planning— exemplified in factors such as the existence of efficient planning tools and maintaining unit integrity—helps operations progress smoothly. Allocating resources to deployment training results in trained unit movement officers and preparation for safe and efficient loading. Submission of accurate reports, timely arrival of throughput enablers, delivering capabilities, and POD throughput combine precision, synchronization, and relevant information. These and other factors all contribute to speed.

Precision and Speed—VII Corps Deploys to Southwest Asia

The Army projects power to support joint operations quickly and on short notice. In November 1990, VII Corps shifted its mission from the defense of Western Europe to coalition operations in Southwest Asia. The Operation Desert Shield mission required VII Corps to conduct crisis action planning for an unfamiliar theater while task organizing with units from V Corps and CONUS. The headquarters developed TPFDD and cross-leveled personnel and equipment on the move to the seaports of embarkation. The corps support command created new CSS capabilities to replace nondeployable host nation support assets. The 3d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, arrived in Southwest Asia early and established port support activities at Dammam and Jubayl in Saudi Arabia to assist VII Corps with RSO&I. VII Corps deployed over 35,000 soldiers from Europe to Southwest Asia and off-loaded over 6,000 tracked vehicles at the ports between November 1990 and February 1991. VII Corps units underwent technology modernization in theater, repainted their vehicles for desert warfare, and conducted numerous training exercises prior to executing Operation Desert Storm.

Relevant Information

3-45.     Successful force projection requires commanders to combine knowledge of the deployment process, judgment, and relevant information. There is a short period in which deploying commanders make decisions that determine the conduct of the deployment and the available employment options over time. Many of the decisions are impossible or very hard to change. Making the right choices requires relevant information. For example, relevant information and understanding the TPFDD are imperative when establishing high-priority items, determining sequencing, deciding how to use time, and setting priorities. Relevant information concerning theater throughput allows commanders to manage deployment to enable employment. Relevant information does not guarantee a smooth deployment; however, combined with their experience and judgment, relevant information allows commanders to control the situation and make good decisions.


Time-Phased Force Deployment Data

The TPFDD is the JOPES database portion of an operation plan. It contains time-phased force data, nonunit-related cargo and personnel data, and movement data for the operation plan. The TPFDD includes—

  • In-place units.
  • Units to be deployed.
  • Desired sequence for arrival.
  • Routing of forces to be deployed.
  • Movement data.
  • Estimates of nonunit-related cargo.
  • Personnel movements to be conducted concurrently with the force deployments.

The TPFDD also contains estimates of common-user transportation requirements and requirements to be fulfilled by assigned or attached transportation resources.

3-46.     Force projection is an integral part of the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System (JOPES). JOPES is constantly evolving. It includes joint operation planning tools, policies, procedures, and reporting structures (see JP 5-03.1). Communications and automated data processing support the entire system. JOPES is used to monitor, plan, and execute mobilization, deployment, employment, sustainment, and redeployment activities associated with joint operations. It provides the framework within which JFCs design theater operations. Army force projection is nested within this framework. The global command and control system (GCCS) is the worldwide automated network of systems that supports JOPES. Army commanders ensure that unit data provided to GCCS databases is accurate. Up-to-date information allows joint planners to produce timely, efficient, and accurate force projection estimates and plans. Several deployment planning tools under development, such as the Transportation Coordinators Automated Information for Movement System II (TC-AIMS II) and the Joint Force Requirements Generator II (JFRG II), will enhance the deployment process and accelerate TPFDD development.

3-47.     A crisis for which no plan exists requires the JFC to rapidly develop a TPFDD. Standard contingency force packages support this time-sensitive preparation cycle. While METT-TC may cause variations, tailored force packages contain a balanced mix of combat, CS, and CSS capabilities.


3-48.      When responding to a crisis, initial-entry forces often establish a lodgment area and expand it into a theater base. From the lodgment, US forces conduct RSO&I, reconfigure, build combat capability, and train. They also assist multinational and host nation forces, protect the force, and acclimate themselves. The JFC sequences combat and support units into the lodgment so that the force gains the initiative and completes deployment. Army forces always prepare for simultaneous deployment and employment. Even in stability operations and support operations, the force is prepared to defend or attack to retain the lodgment. Units may enter the theater in a variety of ways. They either enter unopposed or use force.

Unopposed Entry

3-49.     Whenever possible, US forces seek unopposed entry, which may be either assisted or unassisted. Assisted entry requires the cooperation of the host nation. In assisted entry, initial entry Army forces are tailored to deploy efficiently and transition to follow-on operations quickly. The CSS package is tailored to take full advantage of the host nation assets. RSO&I focus on cooperative effort to expedite moving units to their tactical assembly areas. For example, Saudi Arabia provided extensive support to US forces during deployment for Operation Desert Shield.

3-50.     Often, circumstances leading to deployment make it impossible for the host nation to provide secure facilities for US forces as they arrive. An entry operation in such a case is an unassisted entry. An example of an unassisted entry was the deployment of US forces to Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy. In unassisted entries, JFCs deploy balanced combinations of combat, CS, and CSS forces. Forces with enough combat power to secure an adequate lodgment must be dispatched immediately. Initial-entry CSS forces must be included to establish and support RSO&I within the lodgment. Force sequencing for an unassisted entry is similar to that of a forcible entry.

Forcible Entry

A coup de main is an offensive operation that capitalizes on surprise and simultaneous execution of supporting operations to achieve success in one swift stroke.

3-51.     A forcible entry is an offensive operation for seizing and holding a military lodgment in the face of armed opposition (see JP 3-18). Supported by joint firepower, forcible entry operations capitalize on strategic and operational mobility to surprise the enemy, seize a lodgment, and gain the initiative. Once the assault force seizes the lodgment, it normally defends to retain it while the JFC rapidly deploys additional combat power and sustainment by air and sea. When conditions are favorable, the JFC may combine a forcible entry with other offensive operations in a coup de main, achieving the strategic objectives in a simultaneous major operation. Operation Just Cause is an example of a forcible entry coup de main.

3-52.     The Army maintains formidable forcible entry capabilities. There are three types of forcible entry operations: air assault, parachute assault, and amphibious assault. The Army specializes in parachute assault and air assault. The Marine Corps specializes in amphibious assault; Marines usually conduct air assaults as part of an amphibious operation. Air assaults and parachute assaults permit JFCs to introduce combat power very quickly. They accomplish this without the normal hindrances imposed by port, airfield, or beach restrictions. For example, an airborne or air assault force can be delivered in a matter of minutes. The entry force either resolves the situation or secures a lodgment for the rapid delivery of larger forces by aircraft or ships. The three forms of forcible entry complement each other. Combining all three may allow the JFC to immediately seize the strategic, operational, and tactical initiative.

3-53.     Usually, forcible entry operations secure an initial lodgment that includes an airfield. Once secure, this airfield becomes the focal point for rapid reinforcement of the entry force by air-delivered combat, CS, and CSS units. When required, initial-entry forces expand the lodgment to include a port or suitable seaport of debarkation for follow-on forces. When the lodgment is secure, follow-on forces deploy into the lodgment.

3-54.     Forcible entry operations are complex and always joint. Often only hours separate alert and deployment. The demands of simultaneous deployment and combat employment create a unique set of dynamics. Operations are carefully planned and rehearsed at training areas and in marshaling areas. In contrast to most strategic deployments, equipment is configured for immediate use; ammunition and fuel are stored on board. Joint and Army commanders carefully balance C2, combat, CS, and CSS assets to obtain the maximum combat power quickly. Wherever possible, the commanders exercise C2 from aircraft and ships and use air- and sea-based fire support assets. Doing this dedicates the available strategic lift to placing Army maneuver and sustainment forces on the ground. For example, the staff of an initial-entry force may orbit in specially equipped Air Force aircraft, while Navy and Air Force elements deliver precision strikes to support the force.


3-55.     Enemies possess the motives and means to interrupt the deployment flow. Threats to deploying forces may include advanced conventional weaponry, weapons of mass destruction, and various types of sea and land mines. Sea and air PODs are particularly vulnerable targets since they are the entry points for forces and equipment. POD operations involve relatively soft targets; in addition to military forces and materiel, host nation support personnel, contractors, and civilians may all be working there. Many of these lucrative targets are within the range of enemy forces. A successful attack on a POD can have a major impact on force projection momentum. Commanders at all levels focus attention on security actions that reduce vulnerabilities. To avoid threats to entry operations, the force may operate through ISBs.


3-56.   (see Figure 3-5). ISBs are temporary staging areas en route to an operation. They may also be used to sustain forces in the AO (see FM 4-0). In the best case, secure bases are available within the AO. Unfortunately, the situation that compels deployment may negate the advantages of basing within the AO. When deciding whether to operate through an ISB, JFCs weigh sustainment requirements against risks.

Figure 3-5. Intermediate Staging Base

Figure 3-5. Intermediate Staging Base

3-57.     ISBs are normally located within the theater of operations and outside the AO. They are established outside the range of enemy tactical and operational fires and beyond the enemy political sphere of influence. In cases where the force needs to secure a lodgment, an ISB may be critical to success. Using ISBs is not without a price. Because they are transshipment points, ISBs add handling requirements and can increase deployment time. They may also require infrastructure (personnel and equipment).

3-58.     ISBs may serve as the principal staging base for entry operations. They take advantage of existing, sophisticated capabilities, serving as efficient transfer points from high volume commercial carriers to a variety of tactical, intratheater transport means. Tactical transports can serve smaller, austere ports or—with the right lift—bypass them. Upon arrival at an ISB, a force conducts limited RSO&I and configures for operations. The JFC can then project forces ready to conduct operations immediately into the AO. While not a requirement in every case, an ISB can provide a secure, high-throughput facility when circumstances call for it. ISBs are not limited to a single location; an ISB can consist of several points within a region. The capability and throughput of available facilities determine ISB configuration.

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