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The overall purpose of support operations is to meet the immediate needs of designated groups for a limited time until civil authorities can accomplish these tasks without assistance. In support operations, Army forces provide essential services, assets, or specialized resources to help civil authorities deal with situations beyond their capabilities. Army forces may provide relief or assistance directly when necessary, but they normally support the overall effort controlled by another agency. In support operations, the adversary is often disease, hunger, or the consequences of disaster. Support operations may complement tactical operations or stability operations, or they may be conducted as separate missions.
     The SBCT's infantry battalions can expect to participate in support operations with other units from time to time. The C2 INFOSYS give them a special ability to track friendly and enemy forces and process large amounts of information.
     Support operations usually require the SBCT to perform common tactical missions and tasks but also call on them to execute unique missions and tasks. Support operations are distinguished from other types of operations by their purposes, the special constraints they place on commanders, and the adaptive and creative command decisions that must be made in uncertain and constantly changing conditions.


Support operations involve Army forces providing essential supplies, capabilities, and services to help civil authorities deal with situations beyond their control. In most cases, Army forces focus on overcoming conditions created by natural or manmade disasters. Army forces may provide relief or assistance directly, but most often Army activities in support operations involve setting (shaping) conditions that facilitate civil authorities or NGOs in providing required direct support to the affected population.


The types of support operations are domestic support operations (DSOs) and foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA) operations. The US Army conducts DSOs in the US and its territories, using active and reserve components. It conducts FHA operations abroad and under the direction of a combatant commander. Domestic emergencies can require Army forces to respond with multiple capabilities and services. For this reason, Army forces may conduct the four forms of support operations simultaneously during a given operation.

a.   Domestic Support Operations. DSOs supplement the efforts and resources of state and local governments and NGOs within the United States. During DSOs, the US military always responds in support of a civilian agency. DSOs also include those activities and measures undertaken by DOD to foster mutual assistance and support between it and any civil government agency. These activities and measures may include planning or preparedness for or in the application of resources in response to the consequences of civil emergencies or attacks, including national security emergencies or major disasters. A presidential declaration of an emergency or disaster area usually precedes a DSO.

(1)   The US military provides domestic support primarily in accordance with a DOD directive for military assistance to civil authorities. This directive addresses responses to both natural and manmade disasters and includes military assistance with civil disturbances, counterdrug activities, counterterrorism activities, and law enforcement.

(2)   In accordance with the Constitution, civilian government is responsible for preserving public order. The Constitution does allow the use of military forces to protect federal and civilian property and functions. The Posse Comitatus Act restricts the use of the military in federal status and prevents it from executing laws and performing civilian law enforcement functions within the US.

(3)   The operational focus of DSOs centers on natural and manmade properties with the goal of helping to protect and restore these properties as requested. Typically, environmental operations are conducted in response to such events as forest and grassland fires, hazardous material releases, floods, and earthquakes.

b.   Foreign Humanitarian Assistance. US forces conduct FHA operations outside of the borders of the US or its territories to relieve or reduce the results of natural or manmade disasters or other endemic conditions, such as human suffering, disease, or deprivation, that might present a serious threat to life or that can result in great damage to or loss of property.

(1)   The US military typically supplements the host-nation authorities in concert with other governmental agencies, NGOs, and unaffiliated individuals. Most FHA operations closely resemble DSOs. The distinction between the two is the legal restrictions applied to US forces inside the US and its territories. Posse Comitatus does not apply to US forces overseas.

(2)   Foreign humanitarian assistance operations are limited in scope and duration. They focus exclusively on prompt aid to resolve an immediate crisis. Crises or disasters caused by hostile individuals or factions attacking a government would normally be classified as a stability rather than a support operation. In environments where the situation is vague or hostile, support activities are considered a subset of a larger stability or offensive or defensive operation.


The Army is not specifically organized, trained, or equipped for support operations. Instead, its elements and forces, tailored for warfighting, are rapidly adapted to dominate a crisis or disaster situation. In support operations, Army forces apply decisive military capabilities to set the conditions for the supported civil authorities to achieve success. Army forces have a functional chain of command, reliable communications, and well-trained, well-equipped forces that can operate and sustain themselves in an austere environment with organic or attached assets.

a.   Multiple and Overlapping Activities. In most situations, Army forces involved in support operations, both DSOs and FHA, execute a combination of overlapping activities. Forces must conduct support operations with consistency and impartiality to encourage cooperation from indigenous forces and the population to preserve the legitimacy of the overall effort. The actions of platoons, squads, or even individual soldiers within the SBCT take place under the scrutiny of many interested groups and can have disproportionate effects on mission success. Therefore, high levels of discipline, training, and a thorough understanding of mission outcome are necessary for effective support operations.

b.   Mission Training. A sound foundation in combat mission training and in basic military skills and discipline underpins the SBCT's ability to perform support operations missions, but many of the key individual and collective skills differ and must be trained for deliberately. SBCT units use most of their regularly trained movement and security tasks in support operations missions, but they modify those tasks for the special conditions of their mission. SBCT units also train leaders and soldiers for unique tasks necessary to the types of operation that they are assigned.

c.   Operational Environment. The mission, the terms governing the Army's presence in the AO, the character and attitude of the population, the military and civilian organizations cooperating with the SBCT units, the physical and cultural environments, and a host of other factors combine to make each support operations mission unique. With the exception of specific actions undertaken in counterterrorism operations, support to counterdrug operations, and noncombatant evacuation operations, support missions tend to be decentralized and highly structured. The SBCT's activities consist in large part of directing the operations of its subordinate organizations and supporting units within a sector or AO in accordance with a detailed OPORD.


Support operations may be independent actions, or they may complement offensive, defensive, and stability operations. Most offensive, defensive, and stability operations require some form of support operations before, during, and after execution. Support operations generally fall into four categories:

  • Relief operations.
  • Support domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclealr, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) consequence management.
  • Support to civil law enforcement.
  • Community assistance.

a.   Relief Operations. In general, the actions performed during relief operations are identical in both domestic support operations and foreign humanitarian assistance operations. The actions can be characterized as either humanitarian relief, which focuses on the well being of supported populations, or disaster relief, which focuses on recovery of critical infrastructure after a natural or manmade disaster. Relief operations accomplish one or more of the following:

  • Save lives.
  • Reduce suffering.
  • Recover essential infrastructure.
  • Improve quality of life.

(1)   Disaster Relief. Disaster relief encompasses those actions taken to restore or recreate the minimum infrastructure to allow effective humanitarian relief and set the conditions for longer-term recovery. This includes establishing and maintaining the minimum safe working conditions plus security measures necessary to protect relief workers and the affected population from additional harm. Disaster relief may involve repairing or demolishing damaged structures; restoring or building bridges, roads, and airfields; and removing debris from critical routes and relief sites.

(2)   Humanitarian Relief. Humanitarian relief focuses on lifesaving measures to alleviate the immediate needs of a population in crisis. Humanitarian relief often includes the provision of medical support, food, water, medicines, clothing, blankets, and shelter, as well as heating or cooking fuel. In some cases, humanitarian relief involves transportation support to move affected people from a disaster area.

b.   Support to Domestic CBRNE Consequence Management. Military operations assist civil authorities in protecting US territory, population, and infrastructure prior to an attack by supporting domestic preparedness and critical asset protection programs. If an attack occurs, military support responds to the consequences of the attack.

(1)   Domestic Preparedness. The Army's role in facilitating domestic preparedness is to strengthen the existing expertise of civil authorities. This is done in two primary areas: response and training. Response is the immediate reaction to an attack. Training includes those actions taken before the attack to prevent it or to lessen the severity.

(2)   Protection of Critical Assets. The purpose of this program is to identify critical assets and to assure their integrity, availability, survivability, and capability to support vital DOD missions across the full spectrum of military operations. Critical assets include telecommunications, electric power, gas and oil, banking and finance, transportation, water, and emergency services. An attack on any of these assets may disrupt civilian commerce, government operations, and the military.

(3)   Response to CBRNE Incidents. The initial response to the use of WMD comes primarily from local assets, but sustained Army forces participation may be required soon afterward. The Army's capabilities in this environment are—

  • Detection.
  • Decontamination and medical care, including assessment.
  • Triage treatment.
  • Medical evacuation.
  • Hospitalization.
  • Follow-up on victims of chemical and biological agents.

c.   Support to Civil Law Enforcement. Support to domestic civil law enforcement generally involves activities related to counterterrorism, counterdrug and civil disturbance operations, or general support. Army support may involve providing resources, training, or direct support. Federal forces remain under the control of their military chain of command at all times while providing the support.

(1)   Support to Counterterrorism. Army forces do not conduct domestic counterterrorism, but they may provide support to lead federal agencies during crisis and consequence management of a terrorist incident. They may provide assistance in the areas of transportation, equipment, training, and personnel. When terrorists pose an imminent threat to US territory, its people, or its critical assets, the US military may conduct support operations to counter these threats, using ground, air, space, special operations, or maritime forces. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is responsible for crisis management in the US.

(2)   Support to Counterdrug Operations. Army support to domestic counterdrug operations is very limited and usually only in a support role.

(3)   Civil Disturbance Operations. The Army assists civil authorities in restoring law and order when local and state law enforcement agencies, including the National Guard (NG), are unable to resolve a civil disturbance. The Army provides the minimum force necessary to restore order to the point where civilian authorities no longer require military assistance.

(4)   General Support. The Army may also provide training, share information, and provide equipment and facilities to federal, state, and local civilian law enforcement agencies.

d.   Community Assistance. Community assistance is a broad range of activities designed to strengthen the relationship between the Army and the American people. These projects should exercise individual soldier skills, encourage teamwork, challenge leader planning and coordination skills, and result in accomplishments that are measurable. Example activities include youth physical fitness programs, medical readiness programs, and antidrug programs.


The planning, preparing for, executing, and assessing support operations is fundamentally similar to planning offensive, defensive, and stability operations. However, while each support operation is unique, four broad considerations can help the SBCT develop mission-specific concepts and schemes for executing support operations.


Whether they confront the complications of floods, storms, earthquakes, riots, disease, or other humanitarian crises, the SBCT combines the usual strengths of the mounted and dismounted forces. Although it has limited numbers of medical and engineer elements, the SBCT brings to the operation its outstanding abilities to organize and supervise operations, collect and distribute information, and focus the efforts of its disciplined and motivated soldiers. The following four broad imperatives help SBCT forces plan and execute support operations:

  • Provide essential support to the largest number of people.
  • Coordinate the actions of other agencies.
  • Establish measures of success.
  • Transfer responsibility to civilian agencies as soon as possible.

a.   Provide Essential Support to the Largest Number of People. SBCT commanders must allocate finite resources to achieve the greatest good. Additionally, commanders require an accurate assessment of what needs to be done to employ military power effectively. In some cases, the SBCT can accomplish this task using warfighting reconnaissance capabilities and techniques. Commanders determine how and where to apply limited assets to benefit the most people in the most efficient way. They usually focus initial efforts on restoring vital services, which include food and water distribution, medical aid, power generation, search and rescue, and firefighting.

b.   Coordinate Actions with Other Agencies. Domestic support operations are typically joint and interagency, and foreign humanitarian operations are usually multinational as well. Unity of effort between the military and local authorities requires constant communication to ensure that tasks are conducted in the most efficient and effective way and resources are used wisely.

c.   Establish Measures of Effectiveness. A critical aspect of mission handover is to have objective standards for measuring progress. These measures of effectiveness determine the degree to which an operation is accomplishing its established objectives. For example, a measure of effectiveness might be the number of deaths caused by starvation. This is an indicator that food convoys are not reaching the designated areas. These measures are situation dependent and must be adjusted as the situation changes and as guidance from higher is developed.

d.   Transfer Responsibility to Civilian Agencies As Soon As Possible. Support operations planning must always include the follow-on actions of the civilian agencies and the host nation to restore conditions to normal. The following considerations determine handover feasibility:

  • Condition of supported population and governments.
  • Competing mission requirements.
  • Specified and implied commitment levels of time, resources, and forces.
  • Maturity of the support effort.


The SBCT staff uses the MDMP as outlined in Chapter 2, Battle Command, to plan for support operations.

a.   Special Considerations. The SBCT planning staff must understand the following special considerations:

  • Specialized support operations terminology in the mission and tasks assigned to the SBCT for purposes of mission analysis and course of action development.
  • Command relationships, especially in multinational operations and in support to US civil authorities.
  • Presence of, activities of, and the SBCT's relationship to, NGOs in the AO.
  • The political, economic, military, and environmental situation in the AO.
  • Local customs, cultures, religions, ethnic groups, tribes, and factions.
  • Force protection measures.
  • ROE, ROI, and other restrictions on operations.
  • Terrain, weather, infrastructure, and unique conditions in the AO and the nature of the operation.
  • Security operations.
  • Availability or need for specialized units such as PAO, CA, PSYOP, chemical defense, engineers, MPs, and others.

b.   Attached Elements. SBCTs involved in support operations are normally reinforced with engineers and may also have MPs, additional medics, CA, PA, and PSYOP teams attached or OPCON. Since these units are not commonly part of an SBCT in combat operations, the commanders and staffs should learn the organizations, capabilities, limitations, and specific missions of attached organizations before employing them. In some cases, protecting those elements imposes additional loads on the maneuver units. Additionally, if attached units do not possess the complete C2 INFOSYS, they need liaison teams or instrumented units of the SBCT to accompany them.

c.   Military Decision-Making Process. The SBCT staff uses the MDMP (Chapter 2, Battle Command). The net effect of digitization in the SBCT is the increase in its abilities to receive and distribute information, to develop plans more quickly, and to execute and modify operations more effectively than their analog counterparts. The C2 INFOSYS—tracking supplies for humanitarian operations and recording area damage or contamination from storms or accidents—also give the SBCT advantages.

d.   Digital System. The SBCT's C2 INFOSYS facilitate tracking and supervising support operations by giving its subordinate commanders timely intelligence and highly accurate information about their dispositions. The reduced time required for force tracking and status reporting gives the SBCT commanders and staffs better situational understanding and time to anticipate future events.


Standard command and staff doctrine applies to support operations command and control. Orders, estimates, planning guidance, rehearsals, and backbriefs are all useful in directing support operations. The need for mutual understanding between all members of the SBCT command group is as great in support operations as in combat operations.

a.   Cooperation. As in other cases, cooperation with foreign headquarters, other services, or other agencies imposes special requirements for training, coordination, and liaison. Multiservice and multinational operations in which the SBCT controls troops of other services or nations or is subordinate to another nation's or service's command call for special attention to command relationships and limitations on the SBCT commander's prerogatives.

b.   Command and Control. The SBCT's command and control systems yield significant advantages in planning and conducting support operations. Operation of these systems depends on the communications architecture of the SBCT or of another higher level of command. Use of nontactical or other nonstandard communications is likely in a multinational operation or in support to civil authorities in the US. If this is the case, the commanders and staff leaders need training in operating these tools. In the early and concluding stages of an operation, the C2 structure may permit only limited use of the C2 INFOSYS. The SBCT's plan for command and control must take that into account and provide for alternate means of communication or full reliance on tactical systems. Digital connectivity to higher echelon's information support structure multiplies the effectiveness of the SBCT and must be established as soon as possible.

c.   Liaison Teams. Digitally equipped liaison teams are extremely useful in providing the COP for analog units attached to the SBCT. The SBCT must staff authorized liaison teams and or identify the need for additional teams as early as possible.


The SBCT and its subordinate units may be accustomed to operating with minimal control measures in their tactical training. In support operations, where area responsibilities, movements, and control of terrain are sensitive and hazards are sometimes widely scattered, the SBCT needs detailed information on its AO and commonly uses detailed control measures. SBCT leadership must clearly delineate and ensure soldiers throughout the SBCT understand routes, installations, hazards, geographical responsibilities of units, boundaries, and other control measures. Leaders must also clearly communicate special control measures, such as curfews, restrictions on movements, and prohibition of weapons, to all concerned.

a.   Dispersed Operations. Typically, support operations missions call for dispersed operations. The MCS and FBCB2 systems within the C2 INFOSYS provide timely and accurate force tracking, facilitate reporting, and enhance overall situational understanding. In sensitive movements such as transport of hazardous materials or escorting disaster victims through dangerous areas, tracking provides immediate information on progress. It frees leaders from most routine reporting and permits them to concentrate on more sensitive aspects of their mission. Faster movement of information concerning maneuver also facilitates faster reaction to threats and allows forces in motion to be routed around new hazards more responsively than is possible in an analog force.

b.   Shared Database. If the SBCT is augmented with special purpose units or with substitute mission vehicles, digital force tracking will be affected. Shared databases must be updated to include additional elements, including the addition of Internet protocol addresses.

9-8. Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance

Intelligence collection and distribution systems facilitate support operations in the same general way they support other operations. The S2 uses the SBCT's organic ISR collection assets to gather critical information on enemy or criminal forces and on the AO, according to the PIR. The S2 then distributes intelligence to the SBCT as information is analyzed. The ASAS-RWS is an important means of maintaining a current view of the situation. In support operations conducted where combat is not taking place, there may be no enemy force present. The SBCT never conducts intelligence operations in operations in the US. Some multinational and most UN intelligence operations are also proscribed or severely limited. In some of those cases, intelligence operations may be replaced with neutral, self-defensive information collection operations.

9-9. Information Gathering

A coordinated ISR effort is as critical to the SBCT's success in support operations as it is during combat operations. Information gathering is a constant process that is guided by the CCIR and is normally embodied in an information collection plan and a reconnaissance and surveillance order. The SBCT commander may employ the cavalry squadron (RSTA), other ISR assets, engineers, and liaison teams to answer his ISR requirements. Every soldier and unit in the SBCT has some responsibility for observing and reporting. Therefore, the PIR must be known throughout the SBCT and revised as often as necessary to assure that soldiers know what information is of greatest importance.

a.   Collection Assets. The cavalry squadron (RSTA) and other ISR assets support answering the PIR.

b.   Human Intelligence. Human intelligence is of special importance in support operations. In many cases, additional HUMINT specialists may augment the SBCT.


The SBCT never uses fire support in support operations. However, basic fire planning considerations for targeting remain valid for integrating nonlethal effects.

a.   Fires and effects plans in support operations are integrated into tactical or force protection operations as the situation warrants. Accuracy and timeliness assume greater than normal importance in actions of support operations because of the importance of safeguarding the population and preventing collateral damage. AFATDS still gives the commander and the fires and effects coordination cell exceptionally clear and timely information. Fires and effects planners in the FECC must make special provisions for integrating information operations.

b.   Information operations shape the perceptions of friendly, neutral, and hostile forces. The force commander employs PSYOP, CA, PA, and OPSEC as part of his information operations. The SBCT commander supports the higher commander's IO, carrying out tasks assigned to him and acting independently within the higher commander's intent and the constraints of his own resources. Because support operations are complex, usually decentralized, and often critical to the force's perceived legitimacy, continuity and consistency in IO are extremely important. The SBCT must present its position clearly to assure that the interested public, both in the US and in the AO, understands it. The SBCT commander must be aware of theater positions and interests and of the effects of events on the perceptions of his troops, his opponents, and the population in general. He must understand the positions of and information environment created by—

  • Neutral parties.
  • Warring or formerly warring factions.
  • The population and its major segments.
  • Other agencies working in the AO.
  • Media.
  • Information gathered by elements of the SBCT .


In support operations conducted in the US, information operations do not include PSYOP. In support operations in the US, they consist of PA and any necessary OPSEC.


Mobility and survivability generally constitute major activities in support operations missions, especially at their outset. Force protection may make large initial demands on both combat and construction engineers and military police during FHA missions. Mobility for the force and the population is also an early issue in many support operations as roads and bridges require repair, rubble clearing, and hazardous area marking or clearing. SBCT units can expect heavy commitments to securing engineer operations in the early stages of operations where enemy interference is possible. Support to NBC and high-yield explosive incidents, response to civil disturbance, or protection of critical assets may require countermobility efforts to deny access to specified areas. Such operations may require extensive commitment of engineers. Troop and military police units may be committed to security operations while engineer elements complete their tasks. Even in mature support operations, engineer operations typically remain very active.


SBCTs integrate air defense (AD) plans in support operations into tactical or force protection operations as the situation warrants. The SBCT participating in support operations must optimize passive defense and must nominate vulnerable sites in their AOs for AD artillery protection where threats exist.


Combat service support for support operations usually requires substantial tailoring to adapt to unique mission requirements. Moreover, logistical requirements vary considerably between types of support operations. Support operations commonly take place in areas where local resources and infrastructure are scarce, damaged, or fully devoted to the civilian population.

a.   CSSCS. The digitized division's combat service support computer system (CSSCS) uses automation and related standard army management information systems (STAMIS) as well as other advanced technologies to reduce the size of its support structure. The SBCT's organic BSB is more complex than its predecessors, and the logisticians' ability to maintain visibility of their assets and to direct supplies and services directly to users has been improved.

b.   CSS Challenges. The primary CSS challenges of support operations are to anticipate needs and to integrate analog units and sources into the support operation. Informational needs include—

  • Resources available in-theater.
  • Status of critical supply items and repair jobs.
  • Nature and condition of the infrastructure.
  • Capabilities of general support CSS units.
  • Mission tasks.
  • Overall material readiness of the SBCT.

c.   Contracting. In some cases, contracting can augment organic CSS. SBCTs may encounter contractor-provided services and supply operations in support operations environments. The SBCT S4 and commander must understand the terms and limitations of contractor support.

d.   Liaison with Civil Authorities. Close coordination with civil authorities and nonstandard supporting relationships demand the use of digitized liaison teams to assure their greatest usefulness. They can also demand the creation of additional liaison teams that may have to operate without the C2 INFOSYS.


Additional considerations include the following:

a.   Force Protection. Force protection requires special consideration in support operations because threats may be different and because, in some cases, enemy or criminal forces may seek to kill, wound, or capture US soldiers for political purposes. SBCT leaders must identify threats to their units, make soldiers aware of the dangers, and create safeguards to protect them. Terrorist and guerrilla operations are of special concern. Commanders must also consider environmental threats such as diseases and climatic hazards; special dangers such as chemical contamination, unexploded ordnance, and weakened bridges and buildings; and criminal violence.

b.   Force Guidelines, Rules of Engagement, and Rules of Interaction. Limitations on action from orders, ROE, and ROI are the norm in support operations. Broad limitations may consist of restrictions on mounted patrolling at particular times and in specified areas, prohibitions on crossing political boundaries, and requirements to refrain from apprehending or limiting the movement of designated groups or individuals. They may originate in law, treaty, or settlement terms and in commanders' guidance. While ROE vary considerably among situations, they always allow soldiers to protect themselves from deadly threats.

c.   Legal Restrictions. Legal restrictions apply to all Army operations including support operations. Legal restrictions relevant to support operations missions may include the Law of Land Warfare, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), treaty agreements, and federal, state, and foreign law. The brigade and higher SJAs play important roles in planning and conducting these missions. In some cases, the SJAs provide DS to the SBCT units in the form of legal officers or enlisted legal assistants.

d.   Media Interest. Media interest in support operations is normally high. Casualties and damage attract immediate attention and can affect the public's perception of the success and discipline of the force. The SBCT's soldiers and leaders must be sensitive to civilian concerns, media interests, and the way political positions of factions in the AO affect their actions.

e.   Situational Understanding. Situational understanding allows the SBCT commander to anticipate developments and act to prevent incidents, to protect his soldiers or the population, or to forestall greater loss or damage. To a greater extent than its analog counterparts, the SBCT has direct access to information from higher echelon sources. The SBCT can also distribute critical information with greater speed in greater detail to its units. Maintaining SU requires careful analysis of the SBCT's information needs and a mission-specific IPB supported by a collection plan that fully utilizes all of the SBCT's organic and supporting assets.

Section III. pattern of operations

While support operations vary greatly in every mission, the SBCT can expect events to follow a broad pattern of response, recovery, and restoration.

9-15. Response

As part of a response, the SBCT's subordinate units will enter the affected area, normally under brigade control, and make contact with other relief organizations. Planning for the operation, staging command posts into the area, establishing security, deploying the SBCT's subordinate units, and initiating contacts with supported activities and other parts of the relief force occur during this phase of operations. SBCT soldiers are usually among the first relief forces to arrive. Its command and control structure gives the SBCT robust early ability to communicate and coordinate. Further, its ability to reconnoiter and gather information makes the SBCT useful in the initial efforts by authorities to establish understanding and control of the area and to oversee critical actions. Typical requirements of the response period are—

  • Search and rescue.
  • High volume emergency medical treatment.
  • Hazard identification.
  • Initiation of information operations.
  • Food and water distribution.
  • Collection of displaced people in temporary shelter.
  • Support to law enforcement agencies.
  • Repair of power generation and distribution systems.
  • Clearance and repair of roads, railways, and canals.
  • Firefighting, NBC and hazardous industrial waste decontamination, and flood control.

9-16. Recovery

Once the SBCT support operation is underway, recovery begins. With initial emergencies resolved and a working relationship between all parties in place, there should be steady progress in relieving the situation throughout this phase of operations. The SBCT is fully deployed in an AO or in an assigned task. Its work includes coordination with its higher headquarters, supported groups, and other relief forces and daily allocation of its own assets to recovery tasks. The SBCT task organization is likely to change periodically as the need for particular services and support changes. Security, maintenance, effective employment of resources, and soldier support all need continuing attention. Medical officers should review and assist the commander in counteracting the psychological effects of disaster relief work and exposure to human suffering on the SBCT's soldiers throughout the operation. Typical tasks include—

  • Continuing and modifying information operations.
  • Resettling people from emergency shelters to their homes.
  • Repairing infrastructure.
  • Contracting to provide appropriate support (when feasible).
  • Restoring power, water, communication, and sanitation services.
  • Removing debris.
  • Investigating crimes and supporting law enforcement agencies.
  • Transferring authority and responsibility to civil authorities.
  • Planning for redeployment.

9-17. Restoration

Restoration is the return of normality to the area. As civil authorities assume full control of remaining emergency operations and normal services, the SBCT transfers those responsibilities to replacement agencies and begins redeployment from the area. During restoration, the SBCT commander should consider issues such as—

  • Transfer of authority to civil agencies.
  • Transition of command and control for agencies and units that remain in the area.
  • Movement plans that support redeployment and continued recovery in the area.
  • Staging of command and control out of the area.
  • Accountability of property or transfer of property to the community, if authorized.
  • Force protection during movement.


Generally, support operations follow this sequence:

  • Movement into the AO.
  • Establishment of a base of operations.
  • Maintenance of stability or support.
  • Terminating operations.

In every part of the sequence there are special considerations for digitized units initiating an operation or replacing another unit that has performed the mission before them.

9-18. Movement into the AREA OF OPERATIONS

Command and control considerations normally include using advance parties or liaison teams, establishing command posts, and sequencing the arrival of key leaders. SBCT commanders must prepare a complete plan for establishing control of the AO that includes a concept for phased installation of C2 infrastructure. Transfer of authority from the unit in place to the arriving SBCT's subordinate units and methodical, accountable handover of the AO is also of primary interest. Detailed rehearsals and mock drills held in preparation for this task are a regular part of preparatory training. The CCIR should guide staff specialists as they build databases and map displays to support the operation. The PIR should determine the order in which critical information (for example, enemy dispositions, locations of hazards, and communities in greatest need of support) is assembled and distributed.

9-19. Establishing the Base of Operations

Security, support, and continuous operations are the primary considerations during the establishment of an SBCT base of operations. The SBCT must maintain security continuously and may spend its first days of operation exclusively in securing its bases.

a.   Occupation. During the response phase, the SBCT moves in accordance with the controlling headquarters' order, employing advance parties and quartering parties as necessary. The SBCT may initially move to its assembly area in the affected area, or it may begin to occupy its AO directly from the march. Establishing communications across the AO, refueling vehicles and recovering any inoperable equipment, establishing logistical facilities and medical aid stations, and reconnoitering the area are all early priorities for the brigade. The SBCT must complete these preliminary tasks as quickly as possible in order to assume the mission promptly. In some cases, the SBCT may defer operations until it completes these tasks. For instance, a medical unit obviously cannot receive patients until its basic set-up is completed.

b.   Focus. The SBCT commander, the principal staff officers, and the subordinate commanders vigorously engage in making personal contact with supported groups, partners in the operation, and community representatives early in the response phase. Executive officers and staff assistants are, therefore, responsible for much of the internal activity of the SBCT during response.

c.   Security. Security of the SBCT is important during all phases of the operation but especially during arrival and organization. In addition to direct threats to the soldiers, the commander must also understand and provide for normal environmental hazards and special conditions caused by the emergency itself such as disease, chemical residue, mines, and damaged infrastructure.

d.   24-Hour Operation. Organizing the command post for 24-hour operation in nontactical support operations also requires early attention. A detailed SOP, complete operations maps, and special provisions for communications, inspections, reporting and adjusting security levels are necessities. Establishing a high standard for operations from the outset is key both because of the general sensitivity of support operations and because of the special vulnerabilities of the SBCT in its first days of the mission.

e.   Equipment Substitution. In some cases, high-mobility, multi-purpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs) or other light wheeled equipment replace some of the SBCT's heavier equipment to facilitate movement, limit damage to infrastructure, or present a less threatening appearance. In the case of such substitution, driver and maintenance training is necessary well before the SBCT subordinate units assume their mission. The SBCT may have to modify CSS to support the new vehicles. If the SBCT replaces an analog unit, it may have to modify base camp layouts or even reduce the number of operating bases.

9-20. Maintenance of Support

Steady-state mission performance differs in each operation. Support operations have a varied duration and characteristically orient on relieving crisis in an area or population.

a.   Protect the Force. Force protection remains a priority throughout support operations, and threats are constantly reassessed. The SBCT's units must maintain consistency in dealing with the population and in enforcing policy over time. Likewise, the SBCT commander must ensure maintenance of troop information and discipline throughout the operation. The SBCT should also perform an internal review, an after action review (AAR), and seek outside inspection of critical functions to assure that its standards of security and performance remain high throughout the course of the mission. Involving soldiers in AARs and circulating lessons learned throughout the SBCT helps to prevent complacency, boredom, and lapses in security.

b.   Readiness. During some support operations, the SBCT must retain its readiness to transition to conventional operations. It must maintain and rehearse reaction forces and provisions for increased levels of security in base camps, at observation posts, and in patrols to assure readiness. Commanders should review their operations continually to detect patterns, vulnerabilities, or complacency that an opponent might exploit.

9-21. Terminating Operations

Support operations end in different ways. Crises may be resolved, or a continuing support operation may be handed over to a replacement unit, a multinational force, a police force, or civil authorities. Missions of short duration or narrow scope (such as support to civil authorities) may end with the completion of the assigned task.

a.   With Transfer of Control. Transferring control of an AO or an operation to a follow-on force requires detailed coordination to assure that all relevant information passes to the incoming commander or the other authority assuming responsibility. This procedure entails transfer of databases, maps, inventories, records, and equipment. In cases where the SBCT uses unique files and systems, staff leaders and commanders may have to go through extensive coordination to assure that their successors possess and understand all critical information. If the replacement unit uses analog C2 systems, this process is more complicated.

b.   Without Transfer of Control. If the SBCT leaves the AO without replacement, it must plan for an orderly, secure departure that protects the force throughout the operation and sustains sufficient C2 infrastructure in the AO until withdrawal is complete. In redeployment, force protection and accountability for soldiers, systems, and materiel are always of concern. The C2 INFOSYS will greatly assist the commander in following the movements of his unit throughout its withdrawal.

9-22. Transition to Combat

In some support operations (typically those that take place in an active combat theater), the SBCT command must remain prepared to defend itself or to attack forces that threaten the command. This applies differently in each operation. It may mean maintaining a reserve or a quick reaction force within the SBCT's subordinate units. It may even compel the SBCT to disperse its forces in ways that allow immediate transition from support operations to combat. Additionally, the SBCT must address the considerations of transitioning to less restrictive ROE.

a.   Mission Focus. Because of their size and resources, each SBCT subordinate unit should be assigned a single mission. If they are performing support operations tasks, they are normally capable of only self-defense and very limited offensive actions. To improve their ability to transition to combat, the SBCT commander may designate a reserve, position a unit to defend or secure the AO, or discontinue most support operations tasks and position all his units in a tactical assembly area (TAA), ready to respond to anticipated enemy action.

b.   Reaction Time. States of increased alert or readiness can reduce reaction time for a transition from support operations to combat. Contingency plans covering the most likely combat actions are necessary in preparing for this transition. Rehearsals assure better reaction and deter enemies from overt action.

c.   Readiness Preservation. Passive measures that preserve readiness include dispersion of forces, operation of the early warning systems, and force protection measures affecting arming and moving of troops. Active measures include positioning of field artillery, air defense artillery, engineer, tank, and infantry units during support operations, along with the preparation of contingency plans and plans.

d.   Maintenance of Combat Observation Posts. The SBCT has the digital capability to maintain an updated COP; distribution information, orders, and graphics; coordination of fires, aviation, and close air support; directing CSS precisely; and gaining additional information to effectively and rapidly transition from support operations to combat. By maintaining current contingency plans, alert staffs and commanders, and well-trained and informed soldiers, the SBCT units can meet combat challenges on short notice.


The SBCT must conduct support operations with consistency and impartiality to encourage cooperation from indigenous forces and the population and to preserve the legitimacy of the overall effort. The actions of battalions, squadron, companies, platoons, squads, or even individual soldiers take place under the scrutiny of many interested groups and can have disproportionate effects on mission success. Therefore, high levels of discipline and training and a thorough understanding of mission outcome are necessary for effective support operations.


A sound foundation in combat mission training and in basic military skills and discipline underpins the SBCT's ability to perform support operations missions. However, many of the key individual and collective skills differ and must be trained for deliberately. Subordinate units use most of their regularly trained movement and security tasks in support operations missions, but they modify these tasks for the special conditions of their mission. They also train leaders and soldiers for unique tasks necessary for a certain type of operation.

a.   Mission Essential Task List. Support operations tasks are not usually included in an SBCT's mission essential task list (METL) unless the SBCT has been specifically assigned a support operations mission or such training is approved or directed by the appropriate corps or major Army command (MACOM) commander. Therefore, training for support operations begins with the perception or assignment of a mission. Notification for support operations employment normally requires rapid reaction to an emergency but sometimes may allow for deliberate preparation.

b.   Deliberate Preparation. In the case of deliberate preparation, a commander can anticipate a minimum of one to two weeks of mission training. This training may include a structured mission rehearsal exercise and in-country orientation and leader reconnaissance of the AO. Classes on the AO and the mission, training in the ROE or ROI, special equipment employment, and familiarization with the other organizations present in the area may be part of this training. Review of Army lessons learned and preparation of families and the rear detachment also accompany this training.

c.   Immediate Response. When less time is available (usually in an emergency), the SBCT commander may have to respond immediately to mission requirements. In cases such as Hurricane Andrew and the Rwandan relief mission, commanders relied on the general military skills and discipline of their troops and trained to the task as time allowed. Conditions vary from case to case in this kind of reaction, but commanders can generally draw on Army lessons learned, general purpose techniques and procedures, and maps prepared for training and intelligence from the projected AO to identify the most critical training requirements. The brigade must address these in order of priority as time allows. Subordinate leaders can teach soldier skills and individual readiness training during deployment. Every operation differs in its details. Techniques that are effective in one theater are not necessarily effective elsewhere. Situational factors from cultural practices to geography, and from coalition make-up to ROE, represent substantial differences that training programs must take into account.

d.   Support Operations Task Organizations. Many support operations modify headquarters and unit organizations. New staff positions may be incorporated into the SBCT staff sections or cells, or into its subordinate units' staff sections (CA, PSYOP, and PA are common); unfamiliar organizations may be added to the task organization and units may be re-equipped and partially reorganized to meet mission requirements or to conform to mission requirements. In such cases, conducting staff drills, training augmentees on the C2 INFOSYS, learning to operate new equipment, and practicing operations in new unit configurations all must figure into the brigade training plans.

e.   Basic Soldier Skills. Basic soldier skills are common to all operations and are as important in support operations as elsewhere. Soldiers employed in support operations should be trained in—

  • Individual and crew-served weapons.
  • Special tools, equipment, and weapons.
  • Mounted and dismounted land navigation.
  • Observation and reporting procedures.
  • First aid.
  • Customs and basic language phrases.
  • ROE.
  • ROI.
  • Safety.
  • Counterterrorist actions.
  • Mine and booby-trap identification.
  • Vehicle, aircraft, weapon, uniform, and insignia identification.
  • Applicable C2 INFOSYS skills.
  • Detainee handling.
  • Digital radiotelephone operator (RATELO) procedures.

f.   Additional Requirements. Almost all support operations missions also demand additional requirements. Some of these are—

  • Orienting leaders and soldiers to the mission.
  • Familiarizing troops with the area and cultures.
  • Adapting standard tactical practices to the conditions of the mission.
  • Adapting combat support and CSS operations to the limits of the mission.
  • Understanding and applying ROE.
  • Understanding and applying ROI.
  • Providing for force protection.
  • Conducting effective media relations.
  • Collecting information.


Training for support operations centers on assisting distressed populations and on responding to emergencies. Training for DSO and FHA operations routinely requires cooperation with civil authorities and normally involves operating under special legal restrictions. DSO and FHA training may address—

  • Orienting troops and leaders on legal restrictions and requirements.
  • Preparing troops and leaders for hazards in the AO.
  • Protecting humanitarian relief efforts.
  • Organizing and conducting convoys with civilians and civilian vehicles.
  • Supporting CA and PA operations.
  • Organizing and securing relief centers.
  • Assisting in logistical support and construction engineer operations.
  • Supporting the coordination of nonmilitary organizations.
  • Familiarizing troops with mission-specific tasks such as fire fighting, flood control, hazardous material clean up, riot control, protecting endangered groups or individuals, assistance to civilian law enforcement officials, and resettlement actions.

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