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Stability operations encompass a range of actions that shape the political environment and respond to developing crises. These operations are diverse, continuous, and often long-term. Stability operations may include both developmental and coercive actions. Developmental actions are aimed at enhancing a government's willingness and ability to care for its people. Coercive military actions involve the application of limited, carefully prescribed force, or the threat of force, to achieve specific objectives. Stability operations are usually nonlinear and noncontiguous and are often time and manpower intensive. Army elements may be tasked to conduct stability operations in a complex, dynamic, and often asymmetric environment, to accomplish one or more of the following purposes:


  • Deter or thwart aggression.
  • Reassure allies or friendly governments, agencies, or groups.
  • Provide encouragement and support for a weak or faltering government.
  • Stabilize an area with a restless or openly hostile population.
  • Maintain or restore order.
  • Satisfy treaty obligations or enforce national or international agreements and policies.


For more detailed information on stability operations, refer to the following publications:



Although stability operations normally are centrally planned, execution often takes the form of small-scale, noncontiguous actions conducted over extended distances. Responsibility for making decisions on the ground falls to junior leaders. The following paragraphs examine several important considerations that influence planning and preparation for stability operations. (For a more detailed discussion of these subjects, refer to FM 100-23.)


In decentralized operations, effective command guidance and a detailed understanding of rules of engagement are critical at each operational level.

a.   ROE are directives that explain the circumstances and limitations under which US forces initiate and continue combat engagement with forces encountered. 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.

b.   ROE must be briefed and trained to the lowest operational level. 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 their understanding of the ROE to their own advantage and to the disadvantage of the friendly force. (Refer to FM 100-23 for a more detailed discussion of ROE.)


Rules of interaction 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.

a.   ROI are tools the individual soldier needs to deal with the nontraditional asymmetric 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.

b.   ROI are based on the applicable ROE for a particular operation; they must be tailored to the specific regions, cultures, and populations affected by the operation.

c.   Reinforcement of ROI is critical. ROI can be effective only if they are thoroughly rehearsed and understood by every soldier in the unit.


SBCT infantry 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. The SBCT infantry company may receive taskings as part of the SBCT battalion security plan. Additional security taskings result from the company commander's concept for the company defense. These taskings may be oriented on friendly units, on the enemy and terrain (reconnaissance), or on the enemy's reconnaissance assets (counterreconnaissance). The commander establishes a security plan to keep the enemy from observing or surprising the company. He establishes this plan before moving the company into the area and maintains it continuously. The SBCT infantry company commander bases this plan on orders received from the SBCT battalion and on the enemy situation, terrain, and visibility conditions. The plan provides active and passive measures and counterreconnaissance.

a.   Active Measures. These include OPs, stand-tos, and patrols.

(1)   The commander can require each platoon to have a set number of OPs; if not, the platoon leaders decide what they need. There should be at least one OP for each platoon. In close terrain or limited visibility, there may be one for each squad.

(2)   The commander can also require a set number of men to be on security at all times. The number varies with the enemy situation, terrain, visibility, and the unit's need for rest. As a guide, at least one third of the soldiers should be on security at all times.

(3)   When an attack is expected, the entire SBCT infantry company should be on alert; however, this should not be maintained for long periods. The commander must keep in mind that his soldiers need rest to function in future operations. Leaders must establish and enforce a sleep plan without sacrificing security for rest.

(4)   A stand-to is held both morning and evening to ensure that each man adjusts to the changing light and noise conditions and is dressed, equipped, and ready for action. The stand-to should start before first light in the morning and continue until after light. It should start before dark in the evening and last until after dark. The starting and ending times should vary to prevent establishing a pattern, but the stand-to must last long enough to accomplish its purpose.

(5)   The SBCT battalion can have its companies dispatch patrols whose missions contribute to battalion security. The SBCT infantry company commander can dispatch patrols in addition to those required by the battalion to satisfy the security needs. He may have the patrols reconnoiter dead space in the sector, gaps between platoons, gaps between the company and adjacent units, or open flanks. The company reserve may provide these patrols. Platoons may dispatch similar security patrols. All patrols sent out by the company or its platoons must be coordinated with battalion. (For more information on patrolling, see FM 7-8.)

b.   Passive Measures. These measures include camouflage, movement control, light and noise discipline, and proper radiotelephone procedures. MGS and Javelin gunners, with their daysights and nightsights, can add to the security effort both day and night. The company should also use its NVDs for surveillance.

(1)   To ensure effective coverage, the company commander may direct platoons to cover specific areas with specific devices (such as NVDs and thermal sights). He may also specify how many NVDs will be in use (for example, "one half of the soldiers on security will use NVDs").

(2)   Sector sketches should include the locations of key devices to include NVDs, thermal sights, and MGS and Javelin nightsights.


Because of the unique requirements of stability operations, more often than not the SBCT infantry company is task-organized to operate with a variety of units. This includes some elements with which the company does not normally work, such as linguists, counterintelligence teams, and civil affairs teams.


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

a.   Reliance on local procurement of certain items.

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

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

d.   Difficulty in finding or obtaining potable water, resulting in reliance on bottled water.


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 subjects they must refer to the public affairs officer (PAO).


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 such as private volunteer organizations (PVOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and United Nations (UN) military forces or agencies.


Stability operations typically fall into ten broad types that are neither discrete nor mutually exclusive. For example, a force engaged in a peace operation may also find itself conducting arms control or a show of force to set the conditions for achieving an end state. This section provides an introductory discussion of stability operations; for more detailed information, refer to FM 3-0 and FM 3-07. Types of support operations are as follows:


  • Peace operations.
  • Peacekeeping.
  • Peace enforcement.
  • Operation in support of diplomatic efforts.
  • Foreign internal defense.
  • Security assistance.
  • Humanitarian and civic assistance.
  • Support to insurgencies.
  • Support to counterdrug operations.
  • Combating terrorism.
  • Noncombatant evacuation operations.
  • Arms control.
  • Show of force.


Peace operations encompass three general areas: operations in support of diplomatic efforts, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement. The SBCT infantry company may participate in peacekeeping or peace enforcement operations; it may support diplomatic efforts as part of the battalion or larger force.

a.   Peacekeeping Operations. A peacekeeping force monitors and facilitates the implementation of cease-fires, truce negotiations, and other such agreements. In doing so, it must assure all sides in the dispute that the other involved parties are not taking advantage of settlement terms to their own benefit. The SBCT infantry company most often observes, monitors, or supervises and assists the parties involved in the dispute. The peacekeeping force must remain entirely neutral. If it loses a reputation for impartiality, its usefulness within the peacekeeping mission is compromised.

b.   Peace Enforcement Operations. Several unique characteristics distinguish peace enforcement activities from wartime operations and from other stability operations. The purpose of peace enforcement is to compel compliance with resolutions or sanctions assigned and to maintain or restore peace and order. It may entail combat, armed intervention, or physical threat of armed intervention. Under the provisions of an international agreement, the SBCT battalion and its subordinate companies may be called upon to use coercive military power to compel compliance with international sanctions or resolutions.


Foreign internal defense is participation by civilian and military agencies of a government in any action programs taken by another government to free and protect its society from subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency (JP 1-02). The main objective is to promote stability by helping a host nation establish and maintain institutions and facilities responsive to its people's needs. Army forces in foreign internal defense normally advise and assist host-nation forces conducting operations to increase their capabilities. This type of stability operation is normally conducted by special operating forces.


Army forces support security assistance efforts by training, advising, and assisting allied and friendly armed forces. Security assistance includes the participation of Army forces in any of a group of programs by which the US provides defense articles, military training, and other defense-related services to foreign nations by grant, loan, credit, or cash sales in furtherance of national policies and objectives (JP 3-07).


Humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) programs provide assistance to the host-nation populace in conjunction with military operations and exercises. In contrast to humanitarian and disaster relief operations, HCA actions are planned activities; they are limited to the following categories:


  • Medical, dental, and veterinary care provided in rural areas of a country.
  • Construction of rudimentary surface transportation systems.
  • Well drilling and construction of basic sanitation facilities.
  • Rudimentary construction and repair of public facilities.


This type of support includes assistance provided by US forces to help a friendly nation or group that is attempting to combat insurgent elements or to stage an insurgency itself. This type of stability activity normally is conducted by special operating forces.


US military forces may be tasked for a variety of counterdrug activities, which are always conducted in conjunction with another government agency. These activities include destroying illicit drugs and disrupting or interdicting drug manufacturing, growing, processing, and smuggling operations. Counterdrug support may take the form of advisory personnel, mobile training teams, offshore training activities, and assistance in logistics, communications, and intelligence.


In all types of stability operations, antiterrorism and counterterrorism activities are a continuous requirement in protecting installations, units, and individuals from the threat of terrorism. Antiterrorism focuses on defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist attacks. Counterterrorism encompasses a full range of offensive measures to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism. (For more information on these activities, refer to Joint Publication 3-07.2.)


A noncombant evacuation operation (NEO) is conducted primarily to evacuate US citizens whose lives are in danger, although it may also include natives of the host nation and third-country nationals. These operations involve swift insertion and temporary occupation of an objective followed by a planned withdrawal. Leaders use only the amount of force required for protection of evacuees and self-defense.


An SBCT infantry company may conduct arms control inspections during stability operations to prevent escalation to conflict. This could include the mandated disarming of belligerents. The collection, storing, and destruction of conventional munitions and weapons systems can deter belligerents from resuming hostilities.


Forces deployed abroad lend credibility to a nation's promises and commitments. In support of this principle, show-of-force operations are meant to bolster and reassure allies through a display of credible military force. SBCT infantry companies participating in a show of force mission should assume that combat is not only possible but also probable. All preparatory actions associated with the conduct of combat operations pertain to a show of force. Although actual combat is not desired, a show of force can escalate rapidly and unexpectedly.


Stability operations are complex and very demanding. The SBCT infantry company participating in stability operations is required to master skills ranging from conducting negotiations to establishing observation posts and checkpoints or conducting a convoy escort. The tasks discussed in this section include lessons learned that will assist the company commander in implementing these and other tasks.


A lodgment area is a highly prepared position used as a base of operations in stability operations (Figure 8-1). Like an assembly area or defensive strongpoint, the lodgment provides a staging area for the occupying SBCT unit, affords a degree of force protection, and requires 360-degree security. However, several important characteristics distinguish the lodgment area from less permanent positions.

a.   Due to the probability of long-term occupation, the lodgment requires a level of preparation and logistical support. It 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.

b.   In establishing the lodgment, the SBCT infantry company may use existing facilities or request construction of new facilities. A key advantage in using existing structures is immediate availability, and this also reduces or eliminates the need for construction support from engineers and members of the company. There are disadvantages as well. Existing facilities may be inadequate to meet the company's operational needs, and they may pose security problems because of their proximity to other structures.

c.   The company may establish and occupy a lodgment area as part of an SBCT battalion or, with significant support from the controlling SBCT battalion, as a separate element.

d.   Before he begins preparation, construction, and occupation of the lodgment area, the company commander must plan its general layout. He should evaluate these factors:

(1)   Location of the lodgment area.

(2)   Effects of weather.

(3)   Local traffic patterns.

(4)   OP sites and patrol routes.

(5)   Entry and exit procedures.

(6)   Vehicle emplacement and orientation.

(7)   Bunkers and fighting positions.

(8)   Direct and indirect fire planning.

(9)   Size and composition of the reserve.

(10)   Location of possible LZs and PZs.

Figure 8-1. Example SBCT infantry company lodgment area using existing facilities.

Figure 8-1. Example SBCT infantry company lodgment area using existing facilities.

(11)   CSS considerations, including locations of the following:


  • Mess areas, showers, and latrines (including drainage).
  • Storage bunkers for Class III, IV, and V supplies.
  • Maintenance and refueling areas.
  • Aid station.
  • CP site security.

(12)   Size, composition, and function of advance and reconnaissance parties.

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

(14)   Proximity to structures and roadways (including security factors).

(15)   Priorities of work. The commander must designate priorities of work as the company 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).


The SBCT infantry company may face a number of situations in which leaders need to conduct negotiations. There are two general types of negotiations: situational and preplanned.

a.   Situational Negotiations. 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.

(1)   At the company level, situational negotiations are far more common than the preplanned type. In fact, employment in stability operations requires 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.

(2)   Members of the company 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 company itself. A critical aspect of this knowledge is the negotiator's ability to recognize that he has exhausted his options under the ROE and ROI and must turn the discussion over to a higher authority. Negotiations continue at progressive levels of authority until the issue is resolved.

(3)   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 rehearse application of ROE and ROI in a given stability situation, such as manning a checkpoint. This forces both leaders and subordinates to analyze the ROE and ROI while applying them in an operational environment.

b.   Preplanned Negotiations. Preplanned negotiations are conducted in response to a requirement for discussion and resolution of an upcoming specific issue or problem. Preplanned negotiations are conducted in situations such as an SBCT infantry company commander conducting a work coordination meeting between leaders of the belligerents to determine mine clearance responsibilities. 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 the chance of renewed hostilities between the parties involved. The following paragraphs list 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 operate. 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 preclude observation and direct fire by the opposing parties).
  • What 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 commander must 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 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 company, 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 belligerents 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:

a.   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 and talk directly to each other and to their mutual commander (the SBCT infantry company or SBCT battalion commander).

b.   The commander positions himself at the point where violations are most likely to occur.

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

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


Construction and manning of OPs is a high-frequency task for SBCT infantry companies 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 overt (conspicuously visible, unlike their tactical counterparts) and deliberately constructed. Each OP must be integrated into supporting direct and indirect fire plans and into the overall observation plan. Based on METT-TC factors, deliberate OPs may include specialized facilities such as the following:


  • Observation towers.
  • Ammunition and fuel storage areas.
  • Power sources.
  • Supporting helipads.
  • Kitchens, sleep areas, showers, and toilets.

They are similar in construction to bunkers (see FM 5-103) and are supported by fighting positions, barriers, and patrols (Figure 8-2).


If necessary, the company can also employ hasty OPs, which are similar to individual fighting positions.

Figure 8-2. Example deliberate observation post.

Figure 8-2. Example deliberate observation post.


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

a.   Purposes. The SBCT infantry company 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, patrol base, or both.

b.   Checkpoint Procedures. Checkpoint layout, construction, and manning should reflect METT-TC factors, including the amount of time available for emplacing it (Figure 8-3). The following procedures and considerations may apply:

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

(2)   Position a combat vehicle, selected based upon METT-TC, 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.

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

(4)   Establish a reserve if applicable.

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

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

(7)   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. Women normally are only checked with a metal detector or searched by female personnel.

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

(9)   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 flashlights.
  • Long-handled mirrors (for use in inspections of vehicle undercarriages).

(10)   Elements manning a deliberate CP may require access to specialized equipment such as--


  • Floodlights.
  • Duty logs.
  • Flags and unit signs.
  • Barrier poles that can be raised and lowered.
  • Generators with electric wire.

Figure 8-3. Checkpoint layout.

Figure 8-3. Checkpoint layout.


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 patrol leaders must consider political implications and ROE. Figure 8-4 illustrates the use of patrols, in conjunction with checkpoints and OPs, in enforcing a zone of separation between belligerent forces.

Figure 8-4. Employment of checkpoints, OPs, and patrols to enforce a zone of separation.

Figure 8-4. Employment of checkpoints, OPs, and
patrols to enforce a zone of separation.


This mission requires the SBCT infantry company to provide a convoy with security and close-in protection from direct fire while on the move (Figure 8-5). The SBCT battalion 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 is capable of providing effective protection for a large convoy.


Lighter security forces such as military police units may conduct smaller-scale convoy escort operations.

Figure 8-5. Company convoy escort mission.

Figure 8-5. Company convoy escort mission.

a.   Command and Control. The task organization inherent in convoy escort missions makes battle command especially critical. The SBCT infantry company 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 these elements into the various contingency plans developed for the operation. He must also maintain his link with the controlling TOC.

(1)   Effective SOPs and drills must supplement OPORD information for the convoy, and the company should conduct rehearsals if time permits. Additionally, the company should conduct extensive precombat checks (PCCs) and PCIs, to include inspection of the escorted vehicles. The commander must also ensure that the company conducts all required coordination 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 built-up areas.
  • Actions on contact, covering such situations as snipers, enemy contact (including near or far ambush), indirect fire, mine strike, 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.
  • Tactical disposition.
  • Fire support plan.

(3)   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.

b.   Task Organization. When sufficient escort assets are available, the convoy commander usually organizes convoy security into three distinct elements: advance guard, close-in protective group, and rear guard. He may also designate an additional reserve in the rear guard to handle contingency situations. The following paragraphs examine the role of the advance guard, of security assets accompanying the convoy main body, and of the reserve in the rear guard.


The convoy escort is 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 and mobility assets. As necessary, it should also include linguists.

(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.

(3)   Rear Guard. The rear guard serves as a reserve and either moves with the convoy or locates at a staging area close enough to provide immediate interdiction against enemy forces. The supporting headquarters normally designates an additional reserve, consisting of an additional company or combat aviation assets, to support the convoy operation.

c.   Actions on Contact. As the convoy moves to its new location, the enemy may attempt to harass or destroy it. This contact usually occurs 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 MGS platoon or 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 performs a reaction mission given by the convoy commander.

(1)   Actions at an Ambush. An ambush is one of the most effective ways to interdict a convoy. 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, with particular attention given to fratricide prevention. In almost all situations, the security force takes 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 immediately lay down suppressive fires in the direction of the attack and attempt to clear the kill zone quickly. They seek covered positions between the convoy and the enemy and suppress the enemy with the highest possible volume of fire. They send contact reports to higher headquarters as quickly as possible.

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

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

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

(e)   The convoy escort leader uses situational reports to keep the convoy security commander informed. If necessary, the convoy escort leader can then direct a reserve force from the rear guard or the staging area to take action; he can also call for and adjust indirect fires.

(f)   Once the convoy is clear of the kill zone, the convoy 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.
  • Break contact and move out of the kill zone.
  • Assault the enemy.

(2)   Actions at an Obstacle. Obstacles are obstructions that prevent advancing movement. They include, but are not limited to, deliberate roadblocks, disabled vehicles, and large groups of demonstrators. Obstacles pose a major threat to convoy security and 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.

(a)   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.

(b)   To reduce the time the convoy is halted, thus reducing its vulnerability, these actions should occur when the convoy escort encounters point-type obstacles:


  • The advance guard element identifies the obstacle, and the convoy commander directs the convoy to make a short halt and establish security.
  • The convoy escort element overwatches the obstacle and requests to the convoy commander that the breach force move forward.
  • The escort maintains 360-degree security and provides overwatch as the breach force reconnoiters the obstacle in search of a bypass.
  • 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.


The convoy may encounter obstacles such as an impromptu checkpoint established by civilians or noncombat elements. If the checkpoint cannot be bypassed or breached, the commander must be prepared to negotiate passage for the convoy.


  • The commander relays situational reports higher and, if necessary, requests support from combat reaction forces, engineer assets (if they are not part of the convoy), and aerial reconnaissance elements.
  • Artillery units or the supporting mortar sections are alerted to provide fire support.

(3)   Actions during 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 convoy escort takes the following actions:

(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 allows movement of the escort vehicles through the convoy main body as necessary.

(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 given the order to continue, 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.


This task is a mobility operation normally conducted by the engineers. The SBCT infantry company may be tasked to assist in route clearance and to provide overwatch support. Route clearance may achieve one of several tactical purposes:


  • To clear a route for the initial entry of the SBCT battalion 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 a main supply route (MSR).

The planning considerations associated with opening and securing a route are similar to those for a convoy escort operation. The company 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 information on combined-arms route clearance operations, refer to FM 20-32.)


Reserve operations in the stability environment are similar to those in other tactical operations in that they allow the SBCT infantry company 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 activity or mission, including lodgment area establishment, convoy escort, and area security.

a.   The reserve force must be prepared at all times to execute its operations within the time limits specified by the controlling headquarters.

b.   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. In a mission to support established checkpoints, the reserve force may be the dismounted infantry elements from a platoon or company, supported by aviation assets.

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