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Units may have to conduct operations in environments that do not involve traditional combat. A unit may be called upon to conduct a stability or support contingency operation and then have to quickly transition into offensive or defensive missions. A unit may also be utilized in a stability or support operation at the successful conclusion of a combat mission. When assigned a stability or support mission, a well-trained unit must be able to rapidly shift its focus from war fighting to stability and support and also from stability and support to war fighting. While stability operations and support operations can occur anywhere, they will most likely occur in an urban environment. During a stability operation or support operation, units perform many activities not necessarily contained in its mission-essential task list (METL). While this chapter specifically addresses companies and company teams, many of the planning factors and TTP are applicable to levels above and below the company, with modifications. (See TC 7-98-1 for additional considerations and TTP.)


Conducting stability operations is fundamentally identical to conducting combat operations. While each stability operation is different, the military decision-making process (MDMP) and troop-leading procedures (TLP) methodologies apply. This section will discuss planning considerations and specific TTP for the execution of stability missions.


Various types of stability operations are conducted for many reasons.

a. Purposes. The purposes of stability operations are to—

  • Protect national interests.

  • Promote peace or deter aggression.

  • Satisfy treaty obligations or enforce agreements and policies.

  • Reassure allies, friendly governments, and agencies.

  • Encourage a weak or faltering government.

  • Maintain or restore order.

  • Protect life and property.

  • Demonstrate resolve.

  • Deter or respond to terrorism.

  • Reduce the threat of conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to regional security.

  • Eliminate or contain subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency.

b. Types of Stability Operations. Table 14-1, depicts the types of stability operations that a battalion TF may be called upon to conduct and the missions it will issue its subordinate companies/company teams in order to execute the stability operations.



Peace Operations

Peacekeeping: employ patrols, establish checkpoints, roadblocks, buffer zones, supervise truce, EPW exchange, reporting and monitoring, negotiation and mediation, liaison, investigation of complaints and violations, civil disturbance missions, act as quick reaction force (QRF), and offensive and defensive missions.

Peace Enforcement: separation of belligerents; establishment and supervision of protected zones, sanction enforcement, movement denial and guarantee, restoration and maintenance of order, area security, humanitarian assistance, civil disturbance missions, act as QRF, and offensive and defensive missions.

Operations in Support of Diplomatic Efforts: military to military contacts, exercises, security assistance, restore civil authority, rebuild physical infrastructure, provide structures and training for schools and hospitals, and reestablish commerce.

Foreign Internal Defense

Indirect Support: military to military contacts, exercises, area security.

Direct Support: civil-military operations, intelligence and communications sharing, and logistical support.

Combat Operations: offensive and defensive missions.

Support to Insurgencies

Show of force, defensive missions, raids, area security, employ patrols, and provide CSS.

Support to Counterdrug Operations

Liaison and advisor duty, civic action, intelligence support, surveillance support, reconnaissance, logistical support, and information support.

Combating Terrorism

Conduct force protection, offensive and defensive missions.

Noncombatant Evacuation Operations

Attack to seize terrain that secures evacuees or departure area, guard, convoy security, act as QRF, delay, and defend. See FM 90-29.

Arms Control

Seize and destroy weapons, convoy escort, assist and monitor inspection of arms, and conduct surveillance.

Show of Force

Perform tactical movement, demonstration, defensive operations, and perform training exercises.

Table 14-1. Types of stability operations, missions.


Planning considerations for stability operations include the following:

a. Rules of Engagement. The ROE are directives that explain the circumstances and limitations under which US forces initiate and or continue combat engagement with hostile forces. These rules reflect the requirements of the laws of war, operational concerns, and political considerations when the operational environment shifts from peace to conflict and back to peace. They should be established for, disseminated to, and thoroughly understood by every soldier in the unit. Another important consideration in development and employment of ROE is that commanders must assume that the belligerents they encounter will also understand the ROE; these unfriendly elements will attempt to use the ROE to their own advantage (and to the disadvantage of the friendly force). (See Appendix A for a more detailed discussion of ROE.)

b. Rules of Interaction. These directives, known as ROI, embody the human dimension of stability operations; they lay the foundation for successful relationships with the myriad of factions and individuals that play critical roles in these operations. ROI encompass an array of interpersonal communication skills such as persuasion and negotiation. These are tools the individual soldier will need to deal with the nontraditional threats that are prevalent in stability operations, including political friction, unfamiliar cultures, and conflicting ideologies. In turn, ROI enhance the soldier's survivability in such situations. ROI are based on the applicable ROE for a particular operation; they must be tailored to the specific regions, cultures, and or populations affected by the operation. Like ROE, ROI can be effective only if they are thoroughly rehearsed and understood by every soldier in the unit.

c. Force Protection. Commanders must implement appropriate security measures to protect the force. Establishment of checkpoints, effective base camp security procedures, and aggressive patrolling are examples of force protection measures.

d. Task Organization. Because of the unique requirements of stability operations, the company team may be task-organized to operate with a variety of units. This includes some elements with which the team does not normally work such as linguists, counterintelligence teams, and civil affairs teams.

e. CSS Considerations. The operational environment the company team faces during stability operations may be very austere, creating special CSS considerations. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Reliance on local procurement of certain items.

  • Shortages of various critical items, including repair parts, Class IV supply materials, and lubricants.

  • Special Class V supply requirements, such as pepper spray.

  • Reliance on bottled water.

f. Media Considerations. The presence of the media is a reality that confronts every soldier involved in stability operations. All leaders and soldiers must know how to deal effectively with broadcast and print reporters and photographers. This should include an understanding of which subjects they are authorized to discuss and which ones they must refer to the PAO.

g. Operations with Non-Army Agencies. US Army units may conduct certain stability operations in coordination with a variety of outside organizations. These include other US armed services or government agencies as well as international organizations (including private volunteer organizations, nongovernmental organizations [NGO], and UN military forces or agencies).


A lodgment area is a highly prepared position used as a base of operations in stability operations. Like an assembly area or defensive strongpoint, the lodgment provides a staging area for the occupying unit, affords a degree of force protection, and requires 360-degree security. At the same time, several important characteristics distinguish the lodgment area from less permanent positions. Most notable is the level of preparation and logistical support required for long-term occupation. The lodgment must have shelters and facilities that can support the occupying force and its attachments for an extended period. The area must be positioned and developed so the unit can effectively conduct its primary missions (such as peace enforcement or counterterrorism) throughout its area of responsibility. In establishing the lodgment, the company team may use existing facilities or request construction of new facilities. A key advantage in using existing structures is immediate availability; this also reduces or eliminates the need for construction support from engineers and members of the team. There are disadvantages as well. Existing facilities may be inadequate to meet the team's operational needs, and they may pose security problems because of their proximity to other structures.

The company team may establish and occupy a lodgment area as part of a task force or, with significant support from the controlling task force, as a separate element. Figure 14-1 depicts a company team lodgment area established using existing facilities.

a. Planning the Lodgment. Before preparation, construction, and occupation of the lodgment area, the commander must plan its general layout. He should evaluate the following factors:

  • Location of the lodgment area.

  • Effects of weather.

  • Traffic patterns.

  • OP sites and or patrol routes.

  • Entry and exit procedures.

  • Vehicle emplacement and orientation.

  • Bunkers and fighting positions.

  • Fire planning.

  • Size and composition of the reserve.

  • Location of possible LZs and PZs.

  • CSS considerations, including locations of the following:

    — Mess areas, showers, and latrines (including drainage).

    — Storage bunkers for Class III, Class IV, and Class V supplies.

    — Maintenance and refueling areas.

    — Aid station.

  • CP site security.

  • Size, composition, and function of advance/reconnaissance parties.

  • Nature and condition of existing facilities (quarters; water, sewer, and power utilities; reinforced hard-stand areas for maintenance).

  • Proximity to structures and or roadways (including security factors).

b. Priorities of Work. The commander must designate priorities of work as the company team establishes the lodgment area. He should consider the following tasks:

  • Establishment of security of the immediate area and the perimeter.

  • Establishment of initial roadblocks to limit access to the area.

  • Mine clearance.

  • Construction of revetments to protect vehicles, generators, communications equipment, and other facilities.

  • Construction of barriers or berms around the lodgment area to limit observation of the compound and provide protection for occupants.

  • Construction of shelters for lodgment personnel.

  • Construction of defensive positions.

  • Construction of sanitation and personal hygiene facilities.

  • Construction of hardened CP facilities.

  • Continuing activities to improve the site (such as adding hard-wire electrical power or perimeter illumination).

Figure 14-1. Example company lodgment using existing facilities.

Figure 14-1. Example company lodgment using existing facilities.


The company team may face a number of situations in which leaders will need to conduct negotiations. The two general types of negotiations are situational and preplanned. Situational negotiations are conducted in response to a requirement for on-the-spot discussion and resolution of a specific issue or problem. An example would be members of an advance guard negotiating the passage of a convoy through a checkpoint. Preplanned negotiations are conducted in such situations as a company team commander conducting a work coordination meeting between commanders of former warring factions (FWFs) to determine mine clearance responsibilities.

a. Situational Negotiations. At the company team level, situational negotiations are far more common than the preplanned type. In fact, employment in stability operations will require the commander, his subordinate leaders, and other soldiers to conduct some form of negotiations almost daily. This, in turn, requires them to have a thorough understanding of the ROE and ROI.

(1) Members of the company team apply this working knowledge to the process of discussing and, whenever possible, resolving issues and problems that arise between opposing parties, which may include the team itself. A critical aspect of this knowledge is the negotiator's ability to recognize that he has exhausted his options under the ROE/ROI and must turn the discussion over to a higher authority. Negotiations continue at progressive levels of authority until the issue is resolved.

(2) In preparing themselves and their soldiers for the negotiation process, the commander and subordinate leaders must conduct rehearsals covering the ROE and ROI. One effective technique is to war-game application of ROE/ROI in a given stability situation such as manning a checkpoint. This forces leaders and subordinates alike to analyze the ROE/ROI and apply them in an operational environment.

b. Preplanned Negotiations. Preplanned negotiations require negotiators to thoroughly understand both the dispute or issue at hand and the factors influencing it, such as the ROE and ROI, before talks begin. The negotiator's ultimate goal is to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides and that reduces antagonism (and or the chance of renewed hostilities) between the parties involved. The following paragraphs discuss guidelines and procedures for each phase of the negotiation process.

(1) Identify the purpose of negotiations. Before contacting leaders of the belligerent parties to initiate the negotiation process, the commander must familiarize himself with both the situation and the area in which his unit will be operating. This includes identifying and evaluating avenues of approach that connect the opposing forces. Results of the negotiation process, which may be lengthy and complicated, must be based on national or international agreements or accords. Negotiation topics include the following:

  • When the sides will withdraw.
  • Positions to which they will withdraw (these should be located to preclude observation and direct fire by the opposing parties).
  • Which forces or elements will move during each phase of the operation?
  • Pre-positioning of peace forces that can intervene in case of renewed hostilities.
  • Control of heavy weapons.
  • Mine clearance.
  • Formal protest procedures for the belligerent parties.

(2) Establish the proper context. The next step in the process is to earn the trust and confidence of each opposing party. This includes establishing an atmosphere (and a physical setting) that participants will judge to be both fair and safe. These considerations apply:

  • Always conduct joint negotiations on matters that affect both parties.

  • When serving as a mediator, remain neutral at all times.

  • Learn as much as possible about the belligerents, the details of the dispute or issue being negotiated, and other factors such as the geography of the area and specific limitations or restrictions (for example, the ROE and ROI).

  • Gain and keep the trust of the opposing parties by being firm, fair, and polite.

  • Use tact, remain patient, and be objective.

  • Never deviate from applicable local and national laws and international agreements.

(3) Prepare for the negotiations. Thorough, exacting preparation is another important factor in ensuring the success of the negotiation process. Company team personnel should use the following guidelines:

  • Negotiate sequentially, from subordinate level to senior level.

  • Select and prepare a meeting place that is acceptable to all parties.

  • Arrange for interpreters and adequate communications facilities as necessary.

  • Ensure that all opposing parties, as well as the negotiating team, use a common map (edition and scale).

  • Coordinate all necessary movement.

  • Establish local security.

  • Keep higher headquarters informed throughout preparation and during the negotiations.

  • Make arrangements to record the negotiations (use audio or video recording equipment, if available).

(4) Conduct the negotiations. Negotiators must always strive to maintain control of the session. They must be firm, yet evenhanded, in leading the discussion. At the same time, they must be flexible, with a willingness to accept recommendations from the opposing parties and from their own assistants and advisors. The following procedures and guidelines apply:

  • Exchange greetings.

  • Introduce all participants by name, including negotiators and any advisors.

  • Consider the use of small talk at the beginning of the session to put the participants at ease.

  • Allow each side to state its case without interruption and without making premature judgments.

  • Make a record of issues presented by both sides.

  • If one side makes a statement that is incorrect, be prepared to produce evidence or proof to establish the facts.

  • If the negotiating team or peacekeeping force has a preferred solution, present it and encourage both sides to accept it.

  • Close the meeting by explaining to both sides what has been agreed upon and what actions they are expected to take. If necessary, be prepared to present this information in writing for their signatures.

  • Do not negotiate or make deals in the presence of the media.

  • Maintain the highest standards of conduct at all times.


Compliance monitoring involves observing FWFs and working with them to ensure they meet the conditions of one or more applicable agreements. Examples of the process include overseeing the separation of opposing combat elements, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from a sector, or the clearance of a minefield. Planning for compliance monitoring should cover, but is not limited to, the following considerations:

  • Liaison teams, with suitable communications and transportation assets, are assigned to the headquarters of the opposing sides. Liaison personnel maintain communications with the leaders of their assigned element; they also talk directly to each other and to their mutual commander (the company team or task force commander).

  • The commander positions himself at the point where it is most likely that violations could occur.

  • He positions platoons and squads where they can observe the opposing parties, instructing them to assess compliance and report any violations.

  • As directed, the commander keeps higher headquarters informed of all developments, including his assessment of compliance and or noncompliance.


Construction and manning of OPs is a high-frequency task for company teams and subordinate elements when they must establish area security during stability operations. Each OP is established for a specified time and purpose. During most stability operations, OPs are both overt (conspicuously visible, unlike their tactical counterparts) and deliberately constructed. They are similar in construction to bunkers (see FM 5-103) and are supported by fighting positions, barriers, and patrols. If necessary, the company team can also employ hasty OPs, which are similar to individual fighting positions. Based on METT-TC factors, deliberate OPs may include specialized facilities such as the following:

  • Observation tower.

  • Ammunition and fuel storage area.

  • Power sources.

  • Supporting helipad.

  • Kitchen, sleep area, shower, and or toilet.

Each OP must be integrated into supporting direct and indirect fire plans and into the overall observation plan. Figure 14-2 and Figure 14-3, depict the general location and example layout of an overt, deliberately constructed OP. If OPs are established in buildings, they should be fortified and hardened IAW the information found in Chapter 3.

Figure 14-2. Deliberate OP, general location.

Figure 14-2. Deliberate OP, general location.


Figure 14-3. Example of a deliberate OP.

Figure 14-3. Example of a deliberate OP.


Establishment of checkpoints is a high-frequency task for company teams and subordinate elements involved in stability operations. Checkpoints can be either deliberate or hasty.

a. Purposes. The company team or a subordinate element may be directed to establish a checkpoint to achieve one or more of the following purposes:

  • Deter illegal movement.

  • Create an instant roadblock.

  • Control movement into the area of operations or onto a specific route.

  • Demonstrate the presence of peace forces.

  • Prevent smuggling of contraband.

  • Enforce the terms of peace agreements.

  • Serve as an OP and or patrol base.

b. Checkpoint Procedures. Checkpoint layout, construction, and manning should reflect METT-TC factors, including the amount of time available for emplacing it. The layout of a deliberate checkpoint is depicted in Figure 14-4. The following procedures and considerations may apply:

(1) Position the checkpoint in an area that is clear of hazards such as mines, booby traps, and unexploded ordnance (UXO).

(2) Position the checkpoint where it is visible and where traffic cannot turn back, get off the road, or bypass the checkpoint without being observed.

(3) Position a combat vehicle off the road, but within sight, to deter resistance to soldiers manning the checkpoint. The vehicle should be in a hull-down position and protected by local security. It must be able to engage vehicles attempting to break through or bypass the checkpoint.

(4) Place obstacles in the road to slow or canalize traffic into the search area.

(5) Establish a reserve.

(6) Establish a bypass lane for approved convoy traffic.

(7) Establish wire communications within the checkpoint area to connect the checkpoint bunker, the combat vehicle, the search area, security forces, the rest area, and any other elements involved in the operation.

(8) Designate the search area. If possible, it should be belowground to provide protection against such incidents as the explosion of a booby-trapped vehicle. Establish a parking area adjacent to the search area.

(9) If applicable, checkpoint personnel should include linguists.

(10) Properly construct and equip the checkpoint. Consider inclusion of the following items:

  • Barrels filled with sand, concrete, or water (emplaced to slow and canalize vehicles).

  • Concertina wire (emplaced to control movement around the checkpoint).

  • Secure facilities for radio and wire communications with the controlling headquarters.

  • First-aid kit.

  • Sandbags for defensive positions.

  • Wood or other materials for the checkpoint bunker.

  • Binoculars, night vision devices, and or flashlights.

  • Long-handled mirrors (these are used in inspections of vehicle undercarriages).

(11) Elements manning a deliberate CP may require access to specialized equipment such as the following:

  • Floodlights.

  • Duty log.

  • Flag and unit sign.

  • Barrier pole that can be raised and lowered.

  • Generators with electric wire.

NOTE: Checkpoints that must be established inside an urban area must be overwatched with super surface (rooftop) security.

Figure 14-4. Deliberate checkpoint.

Figure 14-4. Deliberate checkpoint.


Patrolling is also a high-frequency task during stability operations. Planning and execution of an area security patrol are similar to procedures for other tactical patrols except that the patrol leaders must consider political implications and ROE. (Refer to FM 7-8 for a detailed discussion of patrol operations.) Figure 14-5 and Figure 14-6, illustrate the use of area security patrols, in conjunction with checkpoints and OPs, in enforcing a zone of separation between belligerent forces.

Figure 14-5. Example employment of checkpoints, OPs, and patrols to enforce a zone of separation.

Figure 14-5. Example employment of checkpoints, OPs, and patrols to enforce a zone of separation.


Figure 14-6. Example employment of checkpoints, OPs, and patrols to  enforce a zone of separation.

Figure 14-6. Example employment of checkpoints, OPs, and patrols to enforce a zone of separation.


This mission requires the company team to provide a convoy with security and close-in protection from direct fire while on the move. The task force may choose this course of action, if enemy contact is imminent or when it anticipates a serious threat to the security of the convoy. Depending on METT-TC factors, the company team is capable of providing effective protection for a large convoy. (Smaller-scale convoy escort operations may be conducted by lighter security forces such as military police units.)

a. Battle Command. The task organization inherent in convoy escort missions makes battle command especially critical. The company team commander may serve either as the convoy security commander or as overall convoy commander. In the latter role, he is responsible for the employment not only of his own organic combat elements but also of CS and CSS attachments and drivers of the escorted vehicles. He must incorporate all of these elements into the various contingency plans developed for the operation. He must also maintain his link with the controlling tactical operations center (TOC).

(1) Effective SOPs and drills must supplement OPORD information for the convoy, and rehearsals should be conducted if time permits. Additionally, extensive precombat checks (PCCs) and inspections (PCIs) must be conducted, to include inspection of the escorted vehicles. The commander must also ensure that all required coordination is conducted with units and elements in areas through which the convoy will pass.

(2) Before the mission begins, the convoy commander should issue a complete OPORD to all vehicle commanders in the convoy. This is vital because the convoy may itself be task-organized from a variety of units and because some vehicles may not have tactical radios. The order should follow the standard five-paragraph OPORD format; it may place special emphasis on these subjects:

  • Inspection of convoy vehicles.

  • Route of march (including a strip map for each vehicle commander).

  • Order of march.

  • Actions at halts (scheduled and unscheduled).

  • Actions in case of vehicle breakdown.

  • Actions for a break in column.

  • Actions in urban areas.

  • Actions at danger areas (bridges, road intersections, defiles, and so forth).

  • Actions on contact, covering such situations as snipers, enemy contact (including near or far ambush), indirect fire, and minefields.

  • Riot drill.

  • Refugee control drill.

  • Evacuation drill.

  • Actions at the delivery site.

  • Chain of command.

  • Guidelines and procedures for negotiating with local authorities.

  • Communications and signal information.

b. Tactical Disposition. In any escort operation, the basic mission of the convoy commander (and, as applicable, the convoy security commander) is to establish and maintain security in all directions and throughout the length of the convoy. He must be prepared to adjust the disposition of the security force to fit the security requirements of each particular situation. Several factors affect this disposition, including METT-TC, convoy size, organization of the convoy, and types of vehicles involved. In some instances, the commander may position security elements, such as platoons, to the front, rear, and or flanks of the convoy. As an alternative, he may disperse the combat vehicles throughout the convoy body.

c. Task Organization. When sufficient escort assets are available, the convoy commander will usually organize convoy security into three distinct elements: advance guard, main body, and rear guard. He may also designate a reserve to handle contingency situations. Figure 14-7, shows a company team escort force task-organized with an engineer platoon, an aerial scout section, a task force wheeled scout section, a BSFV air defense vehicle, a task force mortar section, and the team's normal maintenance and medical attachments.

NOTE: A convoy escort is normally provided with linguists as required.

(1) Advance Guard. The advance guard reconnoiters and proofs the convoy route. It searches for signs of enemy activity, such as ambushes and obstacles. Within its capabilities, it attempts to clear the route. The distance and time separation between the advance guard and the main body should be sufficient to provide the convoy commander with adequate early warning before the arrival of the vehicle column; however, the separation should be short enough that the route cannot be interdicted between the passage of the advance guard and the arrival of the main body. The advance guard should be task-organized with reconnaissance elements (wheeled scouts and aerial scouts, if available), combat elements (a tank or mechanized infantry platoon), and mobility assets (an engineer squad and a tank with plow or roller). It should also include linguists, as necessary.

(2) Main Body. The commander may choose to intersperse security elements with the vehicles of the convoy main body. These may include combat elements (including the rear guard), the convoy commander, additional linguists, mobility assets, and medical and maintenance support assets. Depending on METT-TC, the convoy commander may also consider the employment of flank security. The length of the convoy may dictate that he position the accompanying mortars with the main body.

(3) Reserve. In a company team escort mission, the reserve may consist of a tank or mechanized infantry platoon and the attached mortar section, if available. The reserve force will move with the convoy or locate at a staging area close enough to provide immediate interdiction against enemy forces. The supporting headquarters will normally designate an additional reserve, consisting of an additional company team or combat aviation assets, to support the convoy operation.

d. Actions on Contact. As the convoy moves to its new location, the enemy may attempt to harass or destroy it. This contact will usually occur in the form of an ambush, often executed in coordination with the use of a hasty obstacle. In such a situation, the safety of the convoy rests on the speed and effectiveness with which escort elements can execute appropriate actions on contact. Based on the factors of METT-TC, portions of the convoy security force, such as a tank platoon or tank section, may be designated as a reaction force. This element performs its normal escort duties, such as conducting tactical movement or occupying an assembly area, as required until enemy contact occurs; it then is given a reaction mission by the convoy commander.

(1) Actions at an Ambush. An ambush is one of the most effective ways to interdict a convoy. Conversely, reaction to an ambush must be immediate, overwhelming, and decisive. Actions on contact in response to an ambush must be planned for and rehearsed so they can be executed as a drill by all escort and convoy elements; particular attention should be given to fratricide prevention. In almost all situations, the security force will take several specific, instantaneous actions in reacting to an ambush. These steps include the following:

(a) As soon as they acquire an enemy force, the escort vehicles take action toward the enemy. They seek covered positions between the convoy and the enemy and suppress the enemy with the highest possible volume of fire permitted by the ROE. Contact reports are sent to higher headquarters as quickly as possible.

(b) The convoy commander retains control of the convoy vehicles and continues to move them along the route at the highest possible speed.

(c) Convoy vehicles, if armed, may return fire only if the security force has not positioned itself between the convoy and the enemy force.

(d) Subordinate leaders or the convoy commander may request that any damaged or disabled vehicles be abandoned and pushed off the route.

(e) The escort leader uses SPOTREPs to keep the convoy security commander informed. If necessary, the escort leader or the security commander can then request support from the reserve; he can also call for and adjust indirect fires.

(f) Once the convoy is clear of the kill zone, the escort element executes one of the following COAs based on the composition of the escort and reaction forces, the commander's intent, and the strength of the enemy force:

  • Continue to suppress the enemy as the reserve moves to provide support.

  • Assault the enemy.

  • Break contact and move out of the kill zone.

(2) Actions at an Obstacle. Obstacles pose a major threat to convoy security. Obstacles can be used to harass the convoy by delaying it; if the terrain is favorable, the obstacle may stop the convoy altogether. In addition, obstacles can canalize or stop the convoy to set up an enemy ambush. The purpose of route reconnaissance ahead of a convoy is to identify obstacles and either breach them or find bypasses. In some cases, however, the enemy or its obstacles may avoid detection by the reconnaissance element. If this happens, the convoy must take actions to reduce or bypass the obstacle. When an obstacle is identified, the convoy escort faces two problems: reducing or bypassing the obstacle and maintaining protection for the convoy. Security becomes critical, and actions at the obstacle must be accomplished very quickly. The convoy commander must assume that the obstacle is overwatched and covered by enemy fires. To reduce the time the convoy is halted, and thus reduce its vulnerability, these actions should occur when the convoy escort encounters point-type obstacles:

(a) The lead element identifies the obstacle and directs the convoy to make a short halt and establish security. The escort overwatches the obstacle and requests that the breach force move forward.

(b) The escort maintains 360-degree security and provides overwatch as the breach force reconnoiters the obstacle in search of a bypass.

(c) Once all reconnaissance is complete, the convoy commander determines which of the following COAs he will take:

  • Bypass the obstacle.

  • Breach the obstacle with the assets on hand.

  • Breach the obstacle with reinforcing assets.

(d) The commander relays a SPOTREP higher and, if necessary, requests support from combat reaction forces, engineer assets (if they are not part of the convoy), and aerial reconnaissance elements.

(e) The artillery units or the supporting mortar section is alerted to be prepared to provide fire support.

NOTE: Among the obstacles the convoy may encounter is an impromptu checkpoint established by civilians or noncombatants. If the checkpoint cannot be bypassed or breached, the commander must be prepared to negotiate passage for the convoy.

(3) Actions at a Halt. During a short halt, the convoy escort remains at REDCON-1 status regardless of what actions other convoy vehicles are taking. If the halt is for any reason other than an obstacle, the following actions should be taken:

(a) The convoy commander signals the short halt and transmits the order via tactical radio. Based on METT-TC factors, he directs all vehicles in the convoy to execute the designated formation or drill for the halt.

(b) Ideally, the convoy assumes a herringbone or coil formation. If the sides of the road are untrafficable or are mined; however, noncombat vehicles may simply pull over and establish 360-degree security as best they can. This procedure allows the movement of the escort vehicles as necessary through the convoy main body.

(c) If possible, escort vehicles are positioned up to 100 meters beyond other convoy vehicles, which are just clear of the route. Escort vehicles remain at REDCON-1 but establish local security based on the factors of METT-TC.

(d) When the order is given to move out, convoy vehicles reestablish the movement formation, leaving space for escort vehicles. Once the convoy is in column, local security elements (if used) return to their vehicles, and the escort vehicles rejoin the column.

(e) When all elements are in column, the convoy resumes movement.

Figure 14-7. Company team convoy escort.

Figure 14-7. Company team convoy escort.


This task is a mobility operation normally conducted by the engineers. The company team, tasked-organized with mechanized infantry and tanks, may be tasked to assist them using its mine plows and rollers and to provide overwatch support. The route may be cleared to achieve one of several tactical purposes:

  • For use by the task force for its initial entry into an area of operations.

  • To clear a route ahead of a planned convoy to ensure that belligerent elements have not emplaced new obstacles since the last time the route was cleared.

  • To secure the route to make it safe for use as an MSR.

The planning considerations associated with opening and securing a route are similar to those for a convoy escort operation. The company team commander must analyze the route and develop contingency plans covering such possibilities as likely ambush locations and sites that are likely to be mined. The size and composition of a team charged with opening and securing a route is based on METT-TC. (For additional information on combined arms route clearance operations, refer to FM 20-32.)


Reserve force missions during stability operations are similar to those in other tactical operations in that they allow the commander to plan for a variety of contingencies based on the higher unit's mission. As noted throughout this section, the reserve may play a critical role in almost any stability operation, including lodgment area establishment, convoy escort, and area security. The reserve force must be prepared at all times to execute its operations within the time limits specified by the controlling headquarters. For example, a platoon-size reserve may be directed to complete an operation within five minutes, while a company-size force may be allotted ten minutes. The controlling headquarters may also tailor the size and composition of the reserve according to the mission it is assigned. If the reserve is supporting a convoy mission, it may consist of a company team; in a mission to support established checkpoints, the reserve force may be the dismounted elements from a platoon or company team, supported by aviation assets.


Searches are an important aspect of population and resource control. The need to conduct search operations or to employ search procedures may become an ongoing requirement in certain stability situations. A search can orient on people, materiel, buildings, or terrain. A company team may be required to perform a search as part of a battalion task force operation or independently.

a. Planning. Prior to conducting the search, company team commanders must understand the limits of their search authority and the ROE, which is usually given in battalion FRAGOs or OPORDs. Misuse of search authority can adversely affect the outcome of the command's mission. Therefore, the seizure of contraband, evidence, intelligence material, supplies, or other items during searches must be conducted and recorded lawfully to be of future value. Proper use of authority during searches gains the respect and support of the people.

(1) Authority. Authority for search operations should be carefully reviewed. Military personnel must know that they may perform searches only in areas within military jurisdiction or where otherwise lawful. Searches may be conducted only to apprehend suspects or to secure evidence proving an offense has been committed.

(2) Instructions. Search teams should be given detailed instructions for handling controlled items. Lists of prohibited or controlled-distribution items should be widely disseminated and on hand during searches. The military or civil police who work with the populace and the resource control program are contacted before the search operations, or periodically if search operations are a continuing activity. This is normally coordinated by the battalion task force staff. Units must consider the effect of early warning on the effectiveness of their operation.

(3) Interpreters. Language difficulties can interfere when US forces interface with the local populace. Therefore, units given a search mission should be provided with interpreters as required.

(4) Tempo. Search operations are conducted slowly enough to allow for an effective search but rapidly enough to prevent the threat from reacting to the search.

(5) Use of Force. Under normal search conditions, minimum essential force is used to eliminate any active resistance encountered. Some situations may require the full shock effect of speed and surprise and limited violence of action. Company teams should be prepared to clear rooms under precision or high intensity conditions.

(6) Surprise. Searches may be conducted during limited visibility, early morning hours or multiple times to achieve surprise. Searchers should return to a searched area after the initial search to surprise and eliminate targeted individuals, groups, or their leaders who might have either returned or remained undetected during the search.

(7) Establishing a Cordon. Plans should be developed for securing the search area (establishing a cordon) and for handling detained personnel. Checkpoints can be employed to canalize traffic.

b. Procedures. The procedures for conducting a cordon and search are:

(1) Search of Individuals. The fact that anyone in an area to be searched could be an enemy or a sympathizer is stressed in all search operations. However, to avoid making an enemy out of a suspect, searchers must be tactful. The greatest caution is required during the initial handling of a person about to be searched. One member of the search team provides security while another member makes the actual search. Where appropriate, checkpoints are placed which allow controlling individuals with minimum force with maximum security.

(2) Search of Females. The threat may use females for all types of tasks when they think searches might be a threat. To counter this, female searchers should be used. (This should be coordinated by the battalion staff.) If male soldiers must search females, all possible measures must be taken to prevent any inference of sexual molestation or assault. Cultural differences may make this a particular problem, especially in Moslem communities.

(3) Search of Vehicles. Searching of vehicles may require that equipment such as detection devices, mirrors, and tools be made available. Occupants may need to be moved away from vehicles and individually searched, before the vehicle itself is searched. Specially trained dogs may be used to locate drugs or explosives. A thorough search of a vehicle is a time-consuming process. Effect on the population must be considered. A separate vehicle search area should be established to avoid unnecessary delays.

c. Conduct of Cordon and Search. When intelligence identifies and locates targeted individuals and groups, an operation is mounted to neutralize them. This should be done by police, acting on the warrant of a disinterested magistrate, and based on probable cause. Company teams will provide security and assist in this effort. In some cases, infantry units may have to conduct the actual search and apprehension. When the situation requires more aggressive action, emergency laws and regulations may dispense temporarily with some of these legal protections. The method used should be the least severe method that is adequate to accomplish the mission. Care should be taken to preserve evidence for future legal action. The area to be searched in a urban area should be divided into zones and a search party assigned to each. A search party consists of a security element to encircle the area, to prevent entrance and exit, and to secure open areas; a search element to conduct the search; and a reserve element to help as required (Figure 14-8).

Figure 14-8. Urban cordon.

Figure 14-8. Urban cordon.

(1) Task Organization. The specific company team task organization will be determined by the factors of METT-TC. A sample company task organization for a cordon and search mission is shown below:

(a) Security Element. The security element consists of one platoon reinforced with the company AT; 60-mm mortar sections acting as infantry; and a tank platoon. This element establishes the checkpoints (shown in Figure 14-8) and conducts security patrols around the cordon preventing exit and entry. Depending on the enemy situation, hasty defensive positions can be assumed in buildings. In the example shown in Figure 14-8, the same security element can be employed to establish the OPs and roadblock.

(b) Search Element. The search element is one platoon reinforced with a squad. Each squad (search team) is given the mission to search buildings 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively.

(c) Reserve Element. The reserve element is one platoon minus a squad. This platoon is given tasks as required by METT-TC. Part of the reserve may be located inside the cordon to be prepared to assist the search element; part may be located outside the cordon to assist the security element.

(2) Other Assets. A company team may be given other assets to assist them in this mission based on availability and METT-TC factors. These assets may be included as teams in the security element or they may remain outside the security element, on call. These assets may come from within the battalion task force, or attached or OPCON MP, engineer, CA, PSYOP, MI, or artillery units. Teams that can be formed from these assets include:

  • Mine detection team.

  • Demolition team.

  • Interrogation team.

  • Documentation team (utilizes a recorder with a camera).

  • Scout dog team.

  • PSYOP/CA augmentation team.

  • FIST.

  • Prisoner team.

  • Tunnel reconnaissance team.

  • Escort parties.

  • Transportation teams.

Additionally, civilians or civilian authorities may assist or support the teams or elements mentioned above.

(3) Establishing a Cordon. An effective cordon is critical to the success of the search effort. Cordons are designed to prevent the escape of individuals to be searched, and to protect the forces conducting the operation. In remote areas, the cordon may be established without being detected. Limited visibility aids can be used in the establishment and security of the cordon.

(a) Plans should be developed to handle detained personnel. Infantrymen normally will provide security and accompany police and intelligence forces who will identify, question, and detain suspects. Infantry may also conduct searches and assist in detaining suspects, under police supervision; but, their principal role is to reduce any resistance that may develop and to provide security for the operation. Use of force is kept to a minimum.

(b) Deployment for the search should be rapid, especially if the threat is still in the area to be searched. Ideally, the entire area should be surrounded at once; observed fire covers any gaps.

(c) The security element surrounds the area while the search element moves in. Members of the security element orient mainly on people evading the search in the populated area; however, the security element can also cut off any belligerents trying to reinforce others within the area. Checkpoints and roadblocks may need to be established.

(d) Subsurface routes of escape in urban areas, such as subways and sewers, may also need to be cordoned and searched. The procedures below should be considered when preparing for the search of a urban area.

(4) Conducting the Search. A search of an urban area must be conducted with limited inconvenience to the populace. However, the populace should be inconvenienced enough to discourage targeted individuals and groups and their sympathizers from remaining in the locale, but not enough to drive the rest of the populace to collaborate with belligerents as a result of the search. A large-scale search of the urban area is a combined civil police and military operation. If this occurs, it is normally conducted at battalion task force level or higher. Such a search should be planned in detail and rehearsed. Physical reconnaissance of the area just before a search is avoided. Information needed about the terrain can be obtained from aerial photographs. In larger towns or cities, the local police might have detailed maps showing relative sizes and locations of buildings. For success, the search plan must be simple and the search must be conducted swiftly. The search element conducts the mission assigned for the operation. The element is organized into special teams. These teams can include personnel and special equipment as previously discussed. Three basic methods are used to search the populated area.

(a) Central Location. Assemble inhabitants in a central location if they appear to be hostile. This method provides the most control; simplifies a thorough search; denies the belligerents an opportunity to conceal evidence; and allows for detailed interrogation. It has the disadvantage of taking the inhabitants away from their dwellings, thus encouraging looting, which, in turn, engenders ill feelings.

(b) Home Restriction. Restrict the inhabitants to their homes. This prohibits movement of civilians, allows them to stay in their dwellings, and discourages looting. The disadvantages of this method are that it makes control and interrogation difficult and gives inhabitants time to conceal evidence in their homes.

(c) Control Heads of Households. The head of each household is told to remain in the front of the house while everyone else in the house is brought to a central location. During the search, the head of the household can see that the search team will steal nothing. Often, this is the best method for controlling the populace during a search. This person can be used to open doors and containers to facilitate the search.

(5) Searching a House. Escort parties and transportation must be arranged before the search of a house. The object of a house search is to screen residents to determine if there are any targeted individuals and groups and their sympathizers, and to look for controlled items. A search party assigned to search an occupied building should consist of at least one local policeman, a protective escort (usually infantry), and a female searcher. Forced entry may be necessary if a house is vacant or if an occupant refuses to allow searchers to enter. If a house containing property is searched while its occupants are away, it should be secured to prevent looting. Before US forces depart, the commander should arrange for the community to protect such houses until the occupants return.

d. Other Considerations. Other considerations for conducting a cordon and search are:

(1) The reserve element is a mobile force positioned in a nearby area. Its mission is to help the other two elements if they meet resistance beyond their ability to handle. The reserve element can replace or reinforce either of the two elements if the need arises.

(2) Any objectionable material found, including propaganda signs and leaflets, should be treated as if it were booby-trapped until inspection proves it safe.

(3) Underground and underwater areas should be searched thoroughly. Any freshly excavated ground could be a hiding place. Mine detectors can be used to locate metal objects underground and underwater.

(4) Depending on the factors of METT-TC, a graduated response technique can be employed. This technique uses warnings and progressive amounts of force to obtain compliance. For example, warnings in the native language can be given announcing that some type of force, lethal or nonlethal, will be used in a given amount of time if the occupants do not exit the building.

(5) Before entering the area, psychological operations announcements can be made to encourage inhabitants to leave peacefully. While this technique minimizes collateral damage, it also gives the enemy time to react.

e. Aerial Search Operations. Search units mounted in helicopters can take full advantage of the mobility of these aircraft. Attack helicopters can also be used to help cordon off areas.

(1) Air assault combat patrols conducting an aerial search can reconnoiter an assigned area or route in search of targeted groups or individuals. When the patrols locate the threat, the patrol may engage it from the air or may land and engage it on the ground. This technique can be useful in urban areas that have open areas and wide streets. If an air defense threat is present, this technique will have limited value.

(2) Use of air assault patrols should be used only in operations when sufficient intelligence is available to justify their use. Even then, such patrols should be used along with ground operations.

f. Cordon and Search of a Village. The same techniques can be used to cordon and search a small urban area (village) surrounded by other terrain (Figure 14-9). In this situation, OPs are established on dominant terrain and a roadblock is established on the main road leading into the urban area.

Figure 14-9. Cordon of a village.

Figure 14-9. Cordon of a village.

NOTE: METT-TC factors may require a battalion TF to conduct the cordon and search. Inner and outer cordons may be required to properly secure the objective area. This will require the battalion TF to deploy its company teams as security, search, and reserve elements in accordance with the tactical situation. The techniques described in the preceding paragraph can be employed with modifications.


Support operations provide essential supplies and services to assist designated groups. They are conducted to help foreign and domestic civil authorities respond to crises. Company teams normally conduct support operations as part of a larger battalion operation to save or protect lives, reduce suffering, recover essential infrastructure, improve the quality of life, and restore situations to normal. Because of the nature of support operations, the company team can expect to interact with other units and agencies such as engineers, MPs, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs). Support actions rely on a partnership with other government and nongovernment agencies. Liaison with these agencies and between local governments is critical. Regardless of the positive relationships built, force protection always remains a top priority. Again, planning for support operations is fundamentally identical to planning for combat and stability operations. While each support operation is different, the military decision-making process (MDMP) and troop-leading procedures (TLPs) methodologies apply.


The two types of support operations are domestic support operations (DSO) and foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA). Companies conduct DSO in the US and its territories and FHA outside the US and its territories. Stand-alone FHA operations are conducted only in a permissive environment. In uncertain and hostile environments, company teams conduct FHA operations as part of larger stability or offensive and defensive operations.


During DSO, company teams perform relief operations, provide support to incidents involving WMD, provide support to law enforcement, and provide community assistance. In FHA, companies most often conduct relief operations; however, FHA may also involve support to incidents involving WMD and community assistance. Table 14-2 depicts the more common missions that the battalion TF will assign to subordinate companies/company teams.



Relief Operations

Search and rescue, food & water distribution, providing temporary shelter, transportation support, medical support, sanitation, area security.

Support to Incidents Involving WMD

Assisting law enforcement, area security, protection of critical assets (utilities, transportation, banking, telecommunications), responding to WMD casualties, establishing roadblocks/checkpoints.

Support to Civil Law Enforcement

Civil disturbance missions; support to counterterrorism and counterdrug operations; providing resources, training, and augmentation; assisting with cordon and search; security patrols; establish roadblocks and checkpoints.

Community Assistance

Search and rescue, firefighting, assistance in safety and traffic control, emergency snow removal, providing temporary shelter.

Table 14-2. Forms of support operations, missions.


Although each operation is unique, support operations are generally conducted in three broad phases: response, recovery, and restoration. Army units can expect to be most heavily committed during the response phase. They will be progressively less involved during the recovery phase, with only very limited activity, if any, during the restoration phase.

a. Response Phase. In the response phase, commanders focus on the life-sustaining functions that are required by those in the disaster area. The following functions dominate these response operations:

  • Search and rescue.

  • Emergency flood control.

  • Hazard identification.

  • Food distribution.

  • Water production, purification, and distribution.

  • Temporary shelter construction and administration.

  • Transportation support.

  • Fire fighting.

  • Medical support.

  • Power generation.

  • Communications support.

b. Recovery Phase. Recovery phase operations begin the process of returning the community infrastructure and related services to a status that meets the immediate needs of the population. Typical recovery operations include the following:

  • Continuation of response operations as needed.

  • Damage assessment.

  • Power distribution.

  • Water and sanitation services.

  • Debris removal.

c. Restoration Phase. Restoration is a long-term process that returns the community to predisaster condition. Restoration activities do not generally involve large numbers of military forces. Army units generally would work with affected communities in the transfer of responsibility to other agencies, as military support forces redeploy.


Stability, and to a lesser extent, support operations are missions that may transition to combat. The company team commander must always keep in mind that the pendulum can also shift from a stability or support operation to combat. An escalation to combat is a clear indicator that the stability or support operation failed. The company must always retain the ability to conduct offensive and defensive operations. Preserving the ability to transition allows the company to maintain initiative while providing force protection.


The commander must plan for contingency operations that factor in what actions the company team will perform if combat cannot be averted; for example, reverting to a hasty defense in the event that a stability or support mission deteriorates.


A balance must be achieved between the mindset of peace operations and the mindset of war fighting. Soldiers can not become too complacent in their warrior spirit, but also must not be too eager to rely on the use of force to resolve conflict. This balance is the essence of peace operations and the fundamental aspect that will enable the company team to perform its mission successfully and avoid an escalation to combat. Proactive leaders that are communicating and enforcing the ROE are instrumental to achieving this mindset.


If the stability or support operation extends over prolonged periods of time, training should be planned that focuses on the individual and collective combat tasks that would be performed during transition to offensive and or defensive missions.

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