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This chapter discusses both stability and support operations at the battalion task force level, defines both operations, and provides planning considerations. US forces are employed in these operations outside the US and US territories to promote and protect US national interests by influencing political, civil, and military environments and by disrupting specific illegal activities. Army forces must remain versatile and have the flexibility to transition from the primary mission of close, personal, and brutal fighting of traditional combat to nontraditional stability operations. The TF normally performs these types of operations as part of a larger, multinational, or unified team but could be required to work independently.

Army forces are highly suited for these types of operations because they are trained, equipped, and organized to control land, populations, and situations for extended periods of time. The depth and breadth of Army abilities provide the combatant commander of a unified command with vital options to meet theater operational requirements. These operations enhance theater engagement and promote regional stability.


Stability operations promote and protect US national interest by influencing the threat, political, and information dimensions of the operational environment through a combination of peacetime developmental, coorporative activities, and coercive actions in response to crises. (FM 3-0) Army force presence promotes a secure environment in which diplomatic and economic programs designed to eliminate root causes of instability may flourish. Presence can take the form of forward basing, forward deploying, or pre-positioning assets in an AO. Army forces have the ability to establish and maintain a credible presence as long as necessary to achieve the desired results. Army force presence as part of a combatant commander's theater engagement plan (TEP) often keeps situations from escalating into war.

8-1.     PURPOSE

The overarching purpose of stability operations is to promote and sustain regional and global stability. These operations may complement and reinforce offensive, defensive, and support operations. Army forces conduct stability operations in crisis situations and before, during, and after offensive, defensive, and support operations. In a crisis situation, a stability operation can deter conflict or prevent escalation. During hostilities, it can help keep armed conflict from spreading and assist and encourage committed partners. Following hostilities, a stability operation can provide a secure environment in which civil authorities can work to regain control. Demonstrating the credible ability to conduct offensive and defensive operations underlies successful stability operations.

    a.     Stability operations are inherently complex and place greater demands at the small-unit level. Junior leaders are required to develop engagement skills while maintaining warfighting skills. Capable, trained, disciplined, and high-quality leaders, soldiers, and teams are especially critical to success. Soldiers and units at every level must be flexible and adaptive. Stability operations often require the mental and physical agility to shift from noncombat to combat operations and back again.

    b.     Stability operations demonstrate American resolve through the commitment of time, resources, and forces to establish and reinforce diplomatic and military ties. Military forces conduct stability operations to accomplish one or more of the following activities:

    • Protect national interests.
    • Promote peace and deter aggression.
    • Satisfy treaty obligations or enforce agreements and policies.
    • Reassure allies, friendly governments, and agencies.
    • Encourage a weak or faltering government.
    • Maintain or restore order.
    • Protect life and property.
    • Demonstrate resolve.
    • Prevent, deter, or respond to terrorism.
    • Reduce the threat of conventional arms and WMD to regional security.
    • Promote freedom from oppression, subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency.
    • Promote sustainable and responsive institutions.

    c.     Stability operations may include both developmental and coercive actions. Developmental actions enhance a host nation government's willingness and ability to care for its people. Coercive actions apply carefully prescribed limited force or the threat of force to change the environment of the AO. For example, rapidly responding to a small-scale contingency operation can diffuse a crisis situation and restore regional stability.

    d.     Stability operations complement and are complemented by offensive, defensive, and support operations. Stability operations help restore law and order during support operations in unstable areas. Similarly, offensive and defensive operations may be necessary to defeat adversaries intent on preventing the success of a stability operation. The ability of Army forces to stabilize a crisis is related to its ability to attack and defend. For example, shows of force often precede offensive and defensive operations in attempts to deter aggression and provide opportunities for diplomatic and economic solutions.

    e.     Stability operations vary by type and are further differentiated by the specific factors of METT-TC. The TF performs many familiar core tactical missions and tasks during stability operations. The purposes of operations, the special constraints on commanders, and the unique missions and tasks, however, differentiate stability operations from other operations.

    f.     Ideally, the TF receives advance notice of stability operation missions and has time to modify its METL and complete a preparatory training program before deploying. In other cases, the TF may deploy and assume stability operation responsibilities on short notice. In those cases, the TF relies on its training in the fundamental tasks (such as command and control, patrolling, reporting, establishing OPs, and maintaining unit security) and trains to specific mission tasks during the operation.

    g.     In stability operations, commanders must emphasize cooperating and communicating with joint headquarters, multinational units, civilian authorities, and nongovernmental agencies. Additionally, close association with the population of the area of operations typifies many stability operations. Some considerations that assist the TF in developing concepts and schemes for executing stability operations include—

    • Leveraging interagency, joint, and multi-national cooperation.
    • Enhancing the capabilities and legitimacy of the host nation.
    • Understanding the potential for unintended consequences of the TF's actions.
    • Displaying the capability to use force in a non-threatening manner.
    • Acting decisively to prevent escalation.
    • Applying force selectively and discriminately.


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 stability operations are as follows:

    • Peace operations:
    • 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 (POs) are the most common stability operation the TF executes because they support strategic and policy objectives and the diplomatic activities that implement them. POs include peacekeeping operations (PKOs), peace enforcement operations (PEOs), and operations in support of diplomatic efforts. Although the US normally participates in POs under the sponsorship of the United Nations (UN) or another multinational organization, it reserves the right to conduct POs unilaterally. Optimally, forces should not transition from one PO role to another unless there is a change of mandate or a political decision with appropriate adjustments to force structure, ROE, and other aspects of the mission. Nevertheless, just as in other operations, it is crucial that commanders and staffs continually assess the mission. In POs, this translates into planning for possible or likely transitions. Examples include transitioning from a US unilateral operation or multinational coalition to a UN-led coalition, from combat to noncombat operations, or from military to civilian control.

    a.     Peacekeeping. PKOs are military operations that are undertaken with the consent of all major parties to a dispute and designed to monitor and facilitate implementation of agreements (such as a ceasefire or truce) and to support diplomatic efforts to reach a long-term political settlement (FM 3-07). Before PKOs begin, a credible truce or ceasefire is in effect, and the belligerent parties consent to the operation.

    (1)     In peacekeeping operations, the TF must use all its capabilities short of coercive force to gain and maintain the initiative. The TF may be assigned a variety of missions designed to monitor peace and stability and to improve the humanitarian environment. The following are examples of PKO missions conducted by a TF:

    • Deter violent acts through the physical presence of the PKO force at critical locations.
    • Conduct liaison with disputing parties.
    • Verify the storage or destruction of military equipment.
    • Verify disarmament and demobilization of selected disputing forces.
    • Negotiate and mediate.
    • Investigate alleged ceasefire violations, boundary incidents, and complaints.
    • Collect information about the disputing forces, using all available assets.
    • Contend with ambiguous, tense, or violent situations without becoming a participant, in compliance with the ROE and preparatory training.
    • Provide security for prisoner of war exchange.
    • Supervise disengagements and withdrawals.
    • Assist civil authorities.
    • Support local elections.
    • Provide relief to refugees and internally displaced persons.
    • Assist with demining.
    • Restore emergency and basic infrastructure functions.
    • Transition to peace enforcement or combat operations. (The TF must train to ensure the force has the ability to respond to a contingency plan requiring an increase in the use of force.)

    (2)     JP 3-07.3 and FM 3-07 provide additional details on PKO-related tasks. Army forces conducting PKOs rely on the legitimacy acknowledged by all major belligerents and international or regional organizations to obtain objectives. They do not use force unless required to defend the soldiers or accomplish the mission. Intelligence and information operations are important to PKOs to provide force protection and situational understanding and to ensure the success of subordinate PKO-related efforts.

    b.     Peace Enforcement. PEOs involve the application of military force or the threat of military force to compel compliance with resolutions or sanctions designed to maintain or restore peace and order. By definition, PEOs are coercive in nature and rely on the threat or use of force. However, the impartiality with which the peace force treats all parties and the nature of its objectives separates PEOs from war. PEOs support diplomatic efforts to restore peace and represent an escalation from peacekeeping operations.

    (1)     In peace enforcement operations, the TF may use force to coerce hostile factions into ceasing and desisting violent actions. Usually, these factions have not consented to intervention, and they may be engaged in combat activities. A TF conducting a peace enforcement operation must be ready to apply elements of combat power to achieve the following:

    • Forcible separation of belligerents.
    • Establishment and supervision of protected areas.
    • Sanction and exclusion zone enforcement.
    • Movement denial and guarantee.
    • Restoration and maintenance of order.
    • Protection of humanitarian assistance.
    • Relief to refugees and internally displaced persons.
    • Support for the return of refugee operations.

    (2)     The nature of PEOs dictates that Army forces assigned a PEO mission be capable of conducting combat operations. Maintaining and demonstrating a credible combat capability is essential for successful PEOs. Units must be able to apply sufficient combat power to protect themselves and accomplish assigned tasks forcefully. Units must also be ready to transition quickly to peacekeeping, offensive, or defensive operations if required.

    c.     Operations in Support of Diplomatic Efforts. Military support of diplomatic efforts improves the chances for success in the peace process by lending credibility to diplomatic actions and demonstrating resolve to achieve viable political settlements. In addition to or as an integral part of PO, Army forces may conduct operations in support of diplomatic efforts to establish order before, during, and after conflict. While these activities are primarily the responsibility of civilian agencies, the military can support these efforts within its capabilities. Army forces may support diplomatic initiatives such as preventative diplomacy, peacemaking, and peace building.

    • Preventive diplomacy consists of diplomatic actions taken in advance of a predictable crisis to prevent or limit violence (JP 3-07).
    • Peacemaking is the process of diplomacy, mediation, negotiation, or other forms of peaceful settlement that arranges an end to a dispute and resolves the issues that led to it (JP 3-07).
    • Peace building consists of post-conflict actions, predominantly diplomatic and economic, that strengthen and rebuild governmental infrastructure and institutions in order to avoid a relapse into conflict (JP 3-07).


Foreign internal defense (FID) 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.

    a.     When conducting foreign internal defense, Army forces provide indirect support, direct support, military supplies, military advice, tactical and technical training, and intelligence and logistics support to support a host nation's effects. Generally, US forces do not engage in combat operations as part of a FID. However, on rare occasions when the threat to US interests is great and indirect means are insufficient, US combat operations may be directed to support a host nation's efforts.

    b.     The TF's primary roles in nation assistance operations are usually similar to its roles in peace-building operations. If involved in these operations, TFs are most likely to provide forces rather than lead the effort themselves. Army forces conduct FID operations in accordance with JP 3-07.1 and FM 3-07.


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 are planned activities. These actions 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.


The US supports insurgencies that oppose regimes that threaten US interests or regional stability. The US supports only those forces that consistently demonstrate respect for human rights.While any Army force can support an insurgency, Army special operations forces almost exclusively receive these missions. Given their training, organization, and regional focus, SOF are well suited for these operations. Conventional US forces supporting insurgencies may provide logistics and training support but normally do not conduct combat operations.


Military support to counterinsurgencies is based on the recognition that military power alone is incapable of achieving true and lasting success. More specifically, American military power cannot ensure the survival of regimes that fail to meet the basic needs of their people. Support to counterinsurgency includes, but is not limited to, FID, security assistance, and humanitarian and civic assistance (JP 3-07).


Counterdrug operations are always conducted in support of one or more governmental agencies. These include the Coast Guard, Customs Service, Department of State, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Border Patrol of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Whether operating in the US or in a host nation, Army forces do not engage in direct action during counterdrug operations. Units that support counterdrug operations must be fully aware of legal limitations regarding the acquisition of information on civilians, both US and foreign. Typical support to counterdrug operations includes the following activities:

    • Detection and monitoring.
    • Host nation support.
    • Command, control, communications, and computers.
    • Intelligence support.
    • Planning support.
    • Logistics support.
    • Training support.
    • Manpower support.
    • Research, development, and acquisition.
    • Reconnaissance.

When operating inside the US and its territories, counterdrug operations are considered support operations and are subject to restrictions under the Posse Comitatus Act.


Enemies who cannot compete with Army forces conventionally often turn to terrorism. Terrorist attacks often create a disproportionate effect on even the most capable of conventional forces. A mechanized unit, such as a conventional brigade or TF, normally does not participate in counterterrorism. If employed against terrorist forces within an AO, the TF is conducting offensive operations and not conducting counterterrorism. The TF should always utilize antiterrorism measures to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist acts, which include the following:

    • Arson.
    • Hijacking.
    • Maiming.
    • Seizure.
    • Assassination.
    • Hostage taking.
    • Sabotage.
    • Hoaxes.
    • Bombing.
    • Kidnapping.
    • Raids and ambushes.
    • Use of NBC.

    a.     Counterterrorism. Counterterrorism refers to offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism (JP 1-02). Counterterrorism is a specified mission for selected special operations forces that are specifically organized and trained to combat terrorism. Commanders who employ conventional forces to strike against organized terrorist forces operating in their area of operations conduct a conventional offensive operation, not counterterrorism.

    b.     Antiterrorism. Antiterrorism includes defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist attacks, including limited response and containment by local military forces (JP 1-02). Typical antiterrorism actions include the following:

    • Coordination with local law enforcement.
    • Siting and hardening of facilities.
    • Physical security actions designed to prevent unauthorized access or approach to facilities.
    • Crime prevention and physical security actions that prevent theft of weapons, munitions, identification cards, and other materials.
    • Policies regarding travel, size of convoys, breaking of routines, host nation interaction, and off-duty restrictions.
    • Protection from weapons of mass destruction.


Army forces conduct noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs) to support the Department of State in evacuating noncombatants and nonessential military personnel from locations in a foreign nation to the US or an appropriate safe haven. Normally, these operations involve US citizens whose lives are in danger either from the threat of hostilities or from a natural disaster. They may also include selected citizens of the host nation or third-country nationals. The NEO may take place in a permissive, uncertain, or hostile environment and can be either unopposed or resisted by hostile crowds, guerrillas, or conventional forces. Most often, the evacuation force commander has little influence over the local situation. Removing these potential targets expands options available to friendly diplomatic and military authorities. The commander may not have the authority to use military measures to preempt hostile actions, yet he must be prepared to defend the evacuees and his force. A key factor in NEO planning is correctly appraising the political-military environment in which the force will operate. The NEO can be a prelude to combat actions, a part of deterrent actions, or a part of peace operations.

8-12.     ARMS CONTROL

TF forces can assist in arms control operations by locating, seizing, and destroying ordinance, weapon systems, and weapons of mass destruction. Other actions include escorting authorized deliveries of weapons and materiel (such as enriched uranium) to preclude loss or unauthorized use, inspecting and monitoring production and storage facilities, and training foreign forces in the security of weapons and facilities. Arms control operations are normally conducted to support arms control treaties and enforcement agencies. Forces may conduct arms control during combat or stability operations to prevent escalation of the conflict and reduce instability. This could include the mandated disarming of belligerents as part of a peace operation. The collection, storing, and destruction of conventional munitions and weapons systems can deter belligerents from reinstigating hostilities.

8-13.     SHOW OF FORCE

A show of force is an operation designed to demonstrate US resolve. Shows of force involve increased visibility of US deployed forces in an attempt to defuse a specific situation that, if allowed to continue, may be detrimental to US interests or national objectives (JP 1-02). The show of force can influence other government or political-military organizations to respect US interests and international law. The TF may take part in a show of force by participating in a temporary buildup in a specific region, conducting a combined training exercise, or demonstrating an increased level of readiness. The US conducts shows of force for three principal reasons: to bolster and reassure allies, to deter potential aggressors, and to gain or increase influence. Although actual combat is not desired when conducting a show of force, the TF commander must be prepared for an escalation to combat.


Stability operations, with the exception of specific actions undertaken in combating terrorism, support to counterdrug operations, and noncombatant evacuation operations, tend to be decentralized operations over extended distances. As such, the TF's activities consist largely of separated small-unit operations conducted across an assigned sector or AO. The TF must conduct these operations with consistency, impartiality, and discipline to encourage cooperation from indigenous forces and garner popular support.


Subordinate commanders need maximum flexibility in executing their missions. Their commander should give them specific responsibilities and ensure they understand his intent.

    a.     Commanders must achieve mass, concentration, and their objective and must not become so decentralized as to piecemeal their efforts. The TF creates a common operational picture, utilizing both analog and digital systems (if equipped), which gives the commander improved situational understanding, allowing him to command and control dispersed elements of the TF while still retaining the flexibility to quickly mass forces at the decisive point on the battlefield.

    b.     Given the volatile and politically charged nature of most stability operations, individual and small-unit actions can have consequences disproportionate to the level of command or amount of force involved. In some cases, tactical operations and individual actions can have strategic consequences. Preventing these problems requires disciplined, knowledgeable leaders and soldiers at every level who clearly understand the TF commander's intent.


The ROE are directives issued by competent military authority that explain the circumstances and limitations under which US forces initiate and continue combat engagement with opposition encountered. The ROE reflect the requirements of the law of war, operational concerns, and political considerations when military force shifts from peace activities to combat operations and back to the peace phase of an operation. These requirements are the primary means the commander uses to convey legal, political, diplomatic, and military guidance to the military force for handling the crisis in peacetime.

    a.     Tactical and legal channels cooperate closely when formulating ROE. The commander determine the desired intent of the ROE; the SJA puts that intent into legal terms.

    b.     Generally, the commander permits a wider use of military force in wartime through ROE. The ROE restrict the use of military force to achieve the political objectives. In all operations, the commander is legally responsible for the care and treatment of civilians and property in the AO until transferred to a proper government. The ROE assist the commander in fulfilling these responsibilities. They vary in different conflicts and often change during the respective phases from combat or crisis through peace-building or nation assistance. Even during a single phase of operation, the rules are amended at different levels of command, which may result in confusion.

    c.     The ROE must be consistent with training and equipment capabilities. When necessary, command guidance clarifies the ROE. While the rules must be tailored to the situation, TF commanders should observe that nothing in such rules negates their obligation to take all necessary and appropriate action in unit self-defense, allowing soldiers to protect themselves from deadly threats. The ROE rule out the use of some weapons and impose special limitations on the use of weapons. Examples include the requirements for warning shots, single shot engagements, and efforts to wound rather than kill. A TF deploying for stability operations trains its soldiers to interpret and apply the ROE effectively. It is imperative for everyone to understand the ROE since small-unit leaders and individual soldiers must make ROE decisions promptly and independently.

    d.     The ROE are normally developed with political considerations in mind and come from joint chief of staff-(JCS-)level decisions. Changes to the ROE can result from immediate tactical emergencies at the local level. The commander should be able to request changes to the ROE. Changes are requested through the operational chain of command and must be approved by the designated authority, usually division or higher-level command. Commanders at all levels need to know the request channels for ROE as well as the procedures to obtain approval for recommended changes to the ROE. Situations requiring an immediate change to the ROE could include introduction of combat forces from a hostile nation, attacks by sophisticated weapons systems including NBC, or incidents resulting in loss of life. These situations should be war-gamed and special instructions included in all OPORD and or FRAGOs that specifically state when and how commanders at all levels can adjust the ROE.

    e.     The ROE are established for, disseminated down to, and understood by individual soldiers. However, the ROE cannot cover every situation. Soldiers at all levels must understand the intent of the ROE and act accordingly despite any military disadvantage that may occur. The commander responsible for ROE formulation should consider including an intent portion that describes the desired end state of the operation as well as conflict-termination considerations. The intent portion should provide a framework for a measured response (gradual increase) in the use of force. These considerations assist commanders and leaders at all levels in situations not clearly addressed in an OPORD. Further, ROE must be an integral part of all predeployment training.


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


Force protection requires special consideration in stability operations. Opposing forces may seek to kill or wound US soldiers for political purposes rather than tactical objectives. Commanders attempt to accomplish a mission with minimal loss of personnel, equipment, and supplies by integrating force protection considerations into all aspects of operational planning and execution. Commanders and leaders throughout the TF deliberately analyze their missions and environments to identify threats to their units. They then make their soldiers aware of the dangers and create safeguards to protect them. Commanders must always consider the aspects of force protection and how they relate to the ROE to include the following:

    • Cooperate with the host nation .
    • Avoid becoming a lucrative target or developing a predictable pattern of activities.
    • Include security in each plan, SOP, OPORD, and movement order.
    • Develop specific security programs such as threat awareness and OPSEC.
    • Restrict access of unassigned personnel to the unit's location.
    • Constantly maintain an image of professionalism and readiness.
    • Consider force protection throughout the range of military operations; base the degree of security established on a continuous threat assessment.
    • Force protection consists of OPSEC, deception, health and morale, safety, and avoidance of fratricide.

    a.     Operations Security. OPSEC considerations include the following:

    (1)     Communications security is as important in stability operations as it is in conventional military operations. Belligerent parties can monitor telephones and radios.

    (2)     Maintaining neutrality contributes to protecting the force. In stability operations, the entire force safeguards information about deployment, positions, strengths, and equipment of one side from the other. If one side suspects that the force is giving information to the other side, either deliberately or inadvertently, one or both parties to the dispute may become uncooperative and jeopardize the success of the operation, thus putting the force at risk from this loss of legitimacy.

    (3)     The force must take precautions to protect positions, headquarters, support facilities, and base camps. These precautions may include obstacles and fortifications. Units also practice alert procedures and develop drills to occupy positions rapidly. A robust engineer force provides support to meet survivability needs.

    (4)     MP forces establish and maintain roadblocks. If MP forces are unavailable, other forces may assume this responsibility. As a minimum, the area should be highly visible and defensible with an armed overwatch.

    (5)     The single most proactive measure for survivability is individual awareness by soldiers in all circumstances. Soldiers must look for things out of place and patterns preceding aggression. Commanders should ensure soldiers remain alert, do not establish a routine, maintain appearance and bearing, and keep a low profile.

    b.     Health and Morale. Stability operations often require special consideration of soldier health, welfare, and morale factors. These operations frequently involve deployment to an austere, immature theater with limited life support infrastructure. Commanders must consider these factors when assigning missions and planning rotations of units into and within the theater.

    c.     Safety. Commanders in stability operations may reduce the chance of mishap by conducting risk assessments, assigning a safety officer and staff, conducting a safety program, and seeking advice from local personnel. The safety program should begin with training conducted before deployment and be continuous. Training includes the effect on safety of factors such as the environment, terrain, road conditions and local driving habits, access to or possession of live ammunition, unlocated or uncleared mine fields, and special equipment such as armored vehicles and other systems that present special hazards.

    d.     Avoidance of Fratricide. Most measures taken to avoid fratricide in stability operations are no different than those taken during combat operations. However, commanders must consider other factors such as local hires or NGO personnel that may be as much at risk as US forces. Accurate information about the location and activity of both friendly and hostile forces and an aggressive airspace management plan assist commanders in avoiding fratricide.


In conducting stability operations, the TF commander organizes his assets for the type of mission he must perform, integrating attached assets and the assets from higher headquarters to accomplish the mission. The TF organization must enable the unit to meet changing situations; thus, the commander must consider which resources to allocate to company teams and which to maintain control of at the TF headquarters. Task organization and support arrangements change frequently during long-term stability operations. Commanders must frequently shift the support of engineers, medical units, and aviation units from one area or task to another.

    a.     Augmentation. The unique aspects of stability operations may require individual augmentees and augmentation cells to support unique force-tailoring requirements and personnel shortfalls. Augmentation supports coordination with the media, government agencies, NGOs and other multinational forces, and civil-military elements. METT-TC considerations drive augmentation.

    b.     Liaison. Commanders may consider task organizing small liaison teams to deal with situations that develop with the local population. Teams can free up maneuver elements and facilitate negotiation. Teams must have linguists and personnel who have the authority to negotiate on the behalf of the chain of command. Unit ministry, engineers, CA, counterintelligence, linguistics, and logistics personnel may be candidates for such teams. Commanders must provide augmenting team members with resources and quality of life normally provided to their own soldiers.


The presence of media is a reality that confronts every soldier involved in stability operations and support operations.

    a.     All leaders and soldiers are subject to instantaneous worldwide scrutiny as a result of the growth of news coverage via international television and radio broadcasts and the Internet. Those opposed to the operation who are anti-US personnel may interpret or embellish interviews to imply that the operation counters official US policy and may damage the nation's interests and international standing.

    b.     TF soldiers must learn how to deal effectively with broadcast and print reporters and photographers. Training should cover any information restrictions imposed on the media. Soldiers must also gain an understanding of which subjects they are authorized to discuss and which ones they must refer to higher authorities, such as their chains of command or the public affairs office (PAO). PAO personnel usually issue daily guidance dealing with these subjects.


US Army units conduct certain stability operations in coordination with a variety of outside organizations. These include other US armed services or government agencies as well as international organizations (including NGOs, and UN military forces or agencies). Coordination and integration of civilian and military activities must take place at every level. Operational and tactical headquarters plan their operations to complement those of government and private agencies. Likewise, military commanders need to make clear to other agencies their own objectives and operational schemes. Coordinating centers such as the civil-military operations center are designed to accomplish this task. These operations centers should include representatives from as many agencies as required.


The TF commander must clearly understand the mission and the situation, and he must ensure his staff and subordinate units understand these as well. He must plan for continuous operations and, as with offensive and defensive operations, planning and preparation time is often very limited. The plan must facilitate adjustment based on changes in the situation. The commander and his staff must consider—

    • The mission: What the force is expected to do.
    • The AO (such as size, location, terrain, and weather).
    • The political, economic, military, and geographical situation in their AO.
    • Local customs, cultures, religions, ethnic groups, and tribal factions.
    • The importance of force protection, OPSEC, physical security, and permissible protection measures.
    • The ROE and appropriate actions to take concerning infringements and violations of agreements.
    • Physical considerations (such as minefields, bridges, road conditions, and existing infrastructure).
    • Security operations.
    • Use of additional assets such as intelligence, public affairs, civil affairs, psychological operations, engineers, and MPs.

The TF commander influences and shapes the AO for mission success by effectively using buffer zones to separate belligerent factions, establishing checkpoints to control movement through and within the TF area, and conducting cordon and search operations to isolate and locate belligerents. To plan effective stability operations, the commander must consider his AO and the environment. All planning should provide a reserve of appropriate size to separate hostile parties before potentially violent situations grow out of control. The reserve must have the ability to respond anywhere in the TF area and handle any unforeseen crisis.


Reconnaissance plays an important role in the TF's accomplishment of a stability mission. The TF commander uses every element available to collect information that helps him accomplish his mission. He uses these elements in compliance with the ROE. Every member of the TF plays a role in gathering information to support the TF. The TF commander uses his TF S2 and the TF intelligence section to form intelligence collection teams. They manage the intelligence collection effort to ensure every member of the TF understands the intelligence required and plays an active role in the collection of that intelligence. Intelligence collection elements normally available to the TF include the scout platoon, maneuver company teams, elements attached to or supporting the TF, and soldiers on patrols in OPs and at checkpoints.

    a.     Other Collection Elements. In addition to organic elements, the TF may have interrogation, counterintelligence, or signal intelligence elements from the divisional MI battalion or corps MI brigade attached.

    b.     Human Intelligence. The attitudes and perceptions of the local populace in the AO are important in helping the TF commander decide how to use his forces to accomplish his objectives. HUMINT, whether collected by TF or supporting elements, is a primary means the TF uses to understand the attitudes and perceptions of the local populace.

    c.     IPB Applied to Stability Operations. The TF commander uses the IPB process and the intelligence cycle as cornerstones for successful stability operations. They can help the commander determine who the enemy is, what capabilities the enemy has, and where he can find the enemy. In an asymmetrical environment, the focus will be on pattern analysis versus predictive analysis when the order of battle (OB) is better defined. They also serve as the basis for creating the TF concept of operations and allocating combat power available to the TF. (See FM 34-130 for more information on IPB and how it applies to stability operations.) Although some of the traditional IPB products, such as the warfighting templates, may not be applicable, the methodology remains intact. The development of detailed PIR and IR enables all personnel in the AO to gather critical information to support the TF. A part of IBP is to assess the area in which the TF will be operating. (See Table 8-1 for an area assessment checklist.)



Refugee Interaction

Where are the refugees originally from?

What is the size of the original population?

What are the size and population of the surrounding countryside the village services?

What is the size of the refugee population?

Why did they come here?

What is the relationship of the village with the surrounding villages? Are they related? Do they support each other? Are they hostile? Is any portion of the population discriminated against?

Food and Water

What is the food and water status of the village?

Where do they get their food?

What other means of subsistence are available?

Are the villagers farmers or herders?

What is the status of their crops or herds?

What is the quality of the water source?

Medical Surveillance

What is the medical status of the village?

What services are available in the village? In the surrounding countryside?

Is there evidence of illness or starvation?

What portion of the population is affected?

What is the death rate?

What diseases are present in the village?

Civil-Military/Nongovernmental Organizations

What civilian and military organizations exist in the village or surrounding countryside?

Who are their leaders?

Which organization, if any, does the local populace support?

United Nations or other Relief Agencies

What NATO, UN, or other relief agencies operate in the village?

Who are their representatives?

What services do they provide?

What portion of the population do they service?

Do they have an outreach program for the surrounding countryside?


What commercial or business activities are present in the village?

What services or products do they produce?


Determine the groups in the village in the most need. What are their numbers? Where did they come from? How long have they been there? What are their specific needs?

What civic employment projects would village leaders like to see started?

Determine the number of families in the village. What are their family names? How many in each family?

What food items are available in the local market? What is the cost of these items? Are relief supplies being sold in the market? If so, what items, from what source, and at what price?

What skilled labor or services are available in the village?

What are the major roads and routes through the village? How heavily traveled are they? Are there choke points or bridges on the routes? Are there alternate routes or footpaths?

What is the size of any transient population in the village? Where did they come from and how long have they been there?

Table 8-1. Area assessment checklist.

    d.     Information Operations. Information operations focus on shaping the ideas, perceptions, and beliefs of friendly, neutral, and belligerent forces. The successful management of information helps give the commander the ability to affect the perception of the local population, belligerent factions, and local leaders and to accomplish his mission. Information management is crucial in stability operations, and security of elements which can help manage information is a critical task. The TF commander may have PSYOP, CA, public affairs, and OPSEC elements attached or operating in support of his TF. If he must plan for their use, he must do so in concert with the rules of engagement, the order from higher headquarters, and his operational plan. If these elements are operating in his area, he may be responsible for providing security for them. Sources of information the TF must use include:

    • Neutral parties.
    • Former warring factions.
    • Civilian populace.
    • Other agencies working in the AO.
    • Media and information passed from organic and nonorganic assets.

8-24.     MANEUVER

TF maneuver in stability operations is similar to maneuver in traditional combat operations, with extensive emphasis on security. The intent is to create a stable environment that allows peace to take hold while ensuring the force is protected.

    a.     Battalion Task Force Maneuver. Maneuver of the TF in stability operations is often decentralized to the company or platoon level. As required, these units receive relief from support forces such as engineers, logistics, and medical personnel. The TF commander must be prepared to rely on CS and CSS elements to assist the maneuver forces when the need arises. When new requirements develop, the CS and CSS elements must be ready to shift priorities.

    b.     Combat Maneuver. Maneuver may involve combat. The TF uses only the level of force necessary to stabilize the crisis. Depending on the ROE, the TF may precede the use of force with a warning or the use of nonlethal means, employing lethal means only if a belligerent does not stop interfering. The methods employed to reduce the crisis could take the form of separating belligerent forces or maneuvering TF elements to provide security. A show of force or demonstration may be all that is necessary, or the TF may employ patrolling, searches, negotiation and mediation, information gathering, strikes and raids, or combat operations to accomplish the mission.


Aviation units—which can be deployed into the area of operation with early-entry ground forces—can be a significant deterrent on the indigenous combatants, particularly if these factions have armored or mechanized infantry forces. Observation or attack helicopters may be employed to act as a TCF or as a reaction force against enemy threats. They may also conduct reconnaissance and surveillance over wide areas and provide the TF a means for visual route reconnaissance. Utility helicopters provide an excellent enhanced command and control capability to stability operations. Medium lift helicopters are capable of moving large numbers of military and civilian peace enforcement personnel and delivering supplies when surface transportation is unavailable or routes become impassable.

8-26.     FIRE SUPPORT

Although FS planning for stability operations is the same as for traditional combat operations, the use of FS may be very restricted and limited. The commander integrates FS into his tactical plan IAW the ROE and restrictions imposed by the AO, such as no-fire zones, presence of noncombatants, and so forth. Special considerations include—

    • Procedures for the rapid clearance of fires.
    • Close communication and coordination with host country officials.
    • Increased security for indirect firing positions.
    • Restricted use of certain munitions such as DPICMs, area denial artillery munitions (ADAMs), or remote antiarmor mines (RAAMs).


Mobility in the TF AO may be restricted due to poorly developed or significantly damaged road systems, installations, and airfields. Before the TF can maneuver effectively, the TF must prepare the AO to support that maneuver. This restricted mobility and need for the TF to maneuver effectively may cause higher headquarters to augment the TF with engineer assets.

    a.     Engineers can play a major role in stability operations by constructing base camps, upgrading the transportation infrastructure, conducting bridge reconnaissance, assisting in civic action by building temporary facilities for the civilian populace, and reducing the mine threat. Additionally, if the AO is heavily saturated with mines, engineers can be used to establish a mine action center (MAC) to provide centralized control for de-mining operations. Factors that help determine the amount of engineer support the TF receives include—

    • Terrain in the AO.
    • Minefields in the AO
    • Type and location of obstacles in the AO.
    • Engineer assets available.
    • Duration of the operation.
    • Environmental considerations.
    • Water supply and location.
    • Sewage and garbage facilities.
    • Local power facilities.
    • Firefighting capability.
    • Basic country infrastructure (road, bridge, rail, airfield, and port capability), including contracted engineering support.

    b.     Regardless of TF requirements, there may not be enough engineer assets, including civilian contract engineer support, available. This situation requires TF elements to construct their own fortifications and assist with other engineer tasks within their capabilities. In prioritizing the use of engineers or the use of organic forces to accomplish engineer tasks, the TF commander emphasizes the strengthening of force protective measures.

8-28.     AIR DEFENSE

The ADO thoroughly analyzes enemy air capabilities during the initial stages of planning. If an air threat exists or is possible, the ADO must take care to use organic and any attached ADA elements to combat the threat in full compliance with the ROE. Since a belligerent air capability can disrupt the TF's entry into and operations in the AO, the TF must ensure information concerning it remains a priority intelligence collection requirement.


The TF's ability to sustain itself in the AO depends on the theater's maturity, the CSS structure, and the time flow of forces. Refugees, an inadequate infrastructure, and demands by the host nation and coalition partners can make logistical support complex.

    a.     General Principles. General principles to consider when planning CSS for stability operations include—

    • Ability to implement logistical support in any stability operations area.
    • Ability of the TF to provide its own support.
    • Ability of higher headquarters to provide support.
    • Availability of local supplies, facilities, utilities, services, and transportation support systems by contract or local purchase.
    • Availability of local facilities such as LOCs, ports, airfields, and communications systems.
    • Local capabilities for self-support to facilitate the eventual transfer of responsibilities to the supported nation for development or improvement.
    • Availability of resources.

    b.     Augmentation. To make up for inadequate logistical and health service infrastructures in the AO, the TF may be augmented with additional CSS elements. Some or all of these CSS elements may precede combat or CS elements into the AO. In addition to supporting the TF, CSS elements may provide support for—

    • Allied or indigenous governmental agencies.
    • Allied or indigenous civilians.
    • Allied or indigenous military forces.
    • US governmental agencies.
    • US civilian agencies and personnel.
    • Other US military forces.
    • US-backed personnel and organizations.
    • International civilian and governmental agencies.

    c.     Health Services Support. In stability operations, the brigade deploys with its organic medical assets. In addition, the FSMC will be augmented with a forward surgical team and a forward support medical evacuation team (FSMT). Health services support for the TF in stability operations is dependent upon the specific type of operations, anticipated duration of the operations, number of personnel deployed, evacuation policy, medical troop ceiling, and anticipated level of violence. Additional HSS requirements could include veterinary services, preventive medicine (PVNTMED), hospital, laboratory, combat/operational stress control, and dental support. For definitive information on HSS for stability operations, see FM 8-42. See AR 40-3 for information on emergency medical treatment for local national civilians during stability operations.

    d.     Contracting. Contracting can be an effective force multiplier and can augment existing CSS capabilities. Weak logistical infrastructures in the AO may make it necessary to use contracting for some supplies and services. If he knows that contracting functions may have to be performed, the TF commander obtains guidance from higher headquarters concerning contracting during the initial planning stages. Hostilities can cause interruptions in the delivery of any contracted services, such as food and water, so the TF must be prepared to support itself and provide necessary support to attached and supporting forces and the local populace for limited periods of time. A good plan anticipates large consumption rates of supplies in Classes I, III, IV, and VIII and provides for reserve stockage of nonperishables.


Battalion task forces and brigades do not normally perform the function of a joint headquarters. If there is no joint task force (JTF) for the operation, a command and control element from the division performs the role of the JTF to integrate the other services. This allows the TF to focus on the control of its company teams. If a battalion task force follows a SOF unit or operation during a deployment, it should request a liaison before arrival in the operational area. The TF coordinates with SOF through the JTF. If there is no JTF, the unit contacts the SOF through the security assistance office.

    a.     Command and Control. The commander develops and articulates a desired end state in terms of the military and desired socioeconomic conditions that have the greatest potential for lasting stability in the area. The commander and his staff determine the required sequence of tasks and objectives the TF must accomplish to meet the end state. Other critical actions include moving into the AO, establishing a base of operations and sustainment for the TF, and implementing appropriate force protection policies. As the immediate situation stabilizes, the TF conducts follow-on actions to restore order and local government, assist in repairing infrastructure, remove weapons, and disarm factions. The commander and staff assign objectives and AOs, allocate forces, and establish control measures for subordinate forces to accomplish their missions.

    (1)     To keep the TF focused throughout the operation, the commander and his staff develop a concept of the operation that establishes objectives and timelines to meet the desired end state. The concept should cover the entire duration of the operation from deployment to the end state, defining how the TF will accomplish its assigned mission. The commander uses FRAGOs and subsequent OPORDs to control execution of each phase of the operation and various missions as required.

    (2)     The commander and his staff coordinate TF plans and actions with the higher headquarters, adjacent units, and government and nongovernmental organizations in the AO to ensure unified effort. Use of LNOs is vital for this requirement.

    b.     Communications. Communications abilities are augmented to effect long-range communications and proper liaisons. The commander and his staff consider equipment compatibility, crypto use, information sharing, and security measures when working with SOF, joint forces, and multinational forces.

    c.     Intelligence Considerations. The TF uses the IPB to portray the intelligence estimate for the commander. Population status, ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors take on increasing importance. Enemy doctrinal information may be scarce. HUMINT is a major focus, and the intelligence effort must be continuous. (See FM 34-130 for more information on IPB for stability and support operations.)

    (1)     Organizations. Organization sources include all host country military and civilian intelligence systems as well as US intelligence sources.

    (2)     Collection. Tactical collection includes all sources. Technological capabilities may not provide a significant advantage in some environments. An intelligence database may or may not apply, or be available, to the tactical commander. The focus of the IPB, and the main source of intelligence, is often HUMINT. Every soldier must be a collector.

    (3)     Restrictions. Internal and external restrictions may exist on the dissemination of information. Gathering information on and within another country in operations other than war has political sensitivity.

    (4)     Emphasis. The intelligence effort must have continued emphasis. Before force commitment, the TF must effectively collect, process, and focus intelligence to support all planning, training, and operational requirements. During execution, intelligence determines the proper course of action.

8-31.     TECHNIQUES

During stability operations the TF may conduct patrols, man observation posts, guard officials, maintain static security posts, conduct searches and roadblocks, react to a civil disturbance, and conduct checkpoint operations in order to accomplish the mission. Additionally, indigenous authorities or other high-ranking officials may require the protection of the battalion task force during movement through or within the area of operations.


The battalion task force may direct its subordinate company teams to conduct patrols, either mounted, dismounted, or by aircraft. Although the patrols are conducted overtly, the company teams take all precautions to protect the soldiers on patrol. A patrol must be readily identifiable as such by all parties and must conduct movement openly. The patrol wears distinctive items of uniform, such as the American flag and non-subdued unit patches.

    a.     Patrols can accomplish the following:

    • Deter potential truce violations by maintaining a presence.
    • Cover gaps between fixed observation posts.
    • Confirm reports from observation posts.
    • Investigate alleged breaches of the armistice.

    b.     A patrol must do the following:

    • Avoid deviating from the planned route.
    • Record in writing and sketch all observations.
    • Halt when challenged, identify itself, and report any attempt to obstruct its progress.
    • Record any changes in the disposition of the opposing forces.


Observation posts are an especially important element of the battalion task force's effort to establish and maintain operational security. OPs provide protection when long-range observation from current positions is not possible. The TF may task the company teams to employ OPs, either mounted or dismounted, as the situation dictates.

    a.     OPs are sited for maximum view of the surrounding area, for clear radio communications, and for defensibility. OP locations are recorded, and the commander must authorize any relocation. Soldiers man the OPs at all times and access is limited to authorized personnel only. The mission of the OP is to report the following:

    • Movement of belligerent military forces, including unit identification, time, direction, and other details that the OP can ascertain.
    • Shooting, hostile acts, or threats directed against the peacekeeping force or civilians.
    • Any improvement to defensive positions of a former belligerent.
    • An overflight by unauthorized aircraft, either military or civilian, including the time, direction, aircraft type, and nationality.
    • Any observed violations of an armistice agreement.

    b.     The peacekeeping force ensures its safety through security, self-defense, and force protection. Conspicuous marking on installations, vehicles, and personnel are a source of protection. The peacekeeping force maintains its legitimacy and acceptability to the former belligerents through its professional, disinterested, and impartial conduct of the peacekeeping mission. However, factions in the former belligerents' armed forces, in the civilian population, or among other interested parties may want to disrupt the peacekeeping operation and subvert the diplomatic process. Therefore, the peacekeeping force must be prepared to defend itself.

    c.     The TF must strictly follow the ROE and limitations on the use of force. Each unit must maintain a ready reserve that can reinforce an OP or aid a patrol in distress. Field fortifications, barriers, and well-sited weapons must protect installations, and the TF must take precautions to protect personnel and facilities from terrorist attacks. The peacekeeping force must fight defensive engagements only if they cannot avoid such engagements. The commander must be prepared to recommend withdrawal of the force when a serious threat appears.


Indigenous authorities or other high-ranking officials may require the protection of a military escort when moving within the area of operation.

    a.     The strength of the escort required depends on the circumstances.

    b.     The TF escort force should provide an armored vehicle as optional transportation for the official(s).

    c.     Additional vehicles must provide support to the vehicle carrying the official(s) throughout the move. Each of the additional vehicles should have automatic weapons and soldiers designated to provide security for the officials.

    d.     The escort force protects the official(s) in the event at an attack. It gets the official vehicle out of the danger area as quickly as possible. The escort force must develop and rehearse contingency plans, alternate routes, and actions in case of attack.

    e.     Before starting the move, the escort commander briefs the official(s) about what will be done in the event of an attack. Regardless of the official's seniority, the escort commander is in command of the move.


A static security post (Figure 8-1) is any security system organized to protect critical fixed installations—military or civil—or critical points along lines of communication such as terminals, tunnels, bridges, and road or railway junctions.

Figure 8-1. Security post

Figure 8-1. Security post.

    a.     The size of the post depends on the mission, the size and characteristics of the hostile force, the attitude of the civil populace, and the importance of the item being secured. The post varies from a two-man bridge guard to a reinforced company team securing a key communications center or civilian community. The TF coordinates establishment of security posts with the host nation.

    b.     The organization of a static security post varies with its size, mission, and distance from reinforcing units. For security reasons, static security posts in remote areas are larger than the same type post would be if located closer to supporting forces. It is organized for the security of both the installation and the security force. The TF must establish reliable communications between remote static security posts and the parent unit's base.

    c.     The TF must control access by indigenous personnel to the security post. It screens and evacuates people living near the positions and can place informers from the local population along the routes of approach.

    d.     The commander must give all possible consideration to soldier comfort during the organization and preparation of the security post. Even under the best conditions, morale suffers among soldiers who must operate for prolonged periods in small groups away from their parent organization.

    e.     If the static security post is far removed from other TF units and might be isolated by enemy action, the TF prestocks sustaining supplies there in sufficient quantities. A static security post should never have to depend solely on the local populace for supplies.

8-36.     SEARCHES

Searches are an important aspect of populace and resource control. The need to conduct search operations or to employ search procedures is a continuous requirement. A search can orient on people, materiel, buildings, or terrain. A search usually involves both civil police and soldiers.

    a.     Planning Considerations. Misuse of search authority can adversely affect the outcome of operations; thus, soldiers must conduct and lawfully record the seizure of contraband, evidence, intelligence material, supplies, or other minor items for them to be of future legal value. Proper use of authority during searches gains the respect and support of the people.

    (1)     Authority for search operations is carefully reviewed. Military personnel must perform searches only in areas in military jurisdiction (or where otherwise lawful). They must conduct searches only to apprehend suspects or to secure evidence proving an offense has been committed.

    (2)     Search teams have detailed instructions for handling controlled items. Lists of prohibited or controlled-distribution items should be widely disseminated and on hand during searches. The TF contacts military or civil police who work with the populace and the resource control program before the search operations (or periodically if search operations are a continuing activity). Units must consider the effect of early warning on the effectiveness of their operation.

    (3)     Language difficulties can interfere when US forces conduct search operations involving the local populace. The US units given a search mission are provided with interpreters as required.

    (4)     The TF conducts search operations slowly enough to allow for an effective search but rapidly enough to prevent the enemy from reacting to the threat of the search.

    (5)     Soldiers use minimum-essential force to eliminate any active resistance encountered.

    (6)     Searchers can return to a searched area after the initial search to surprise and eliminate insurgents or their leaders who might have either returned or remained undetected during the search.

    (7)     The TF should develop plans for securing the search area (establishing a cordon) and for handling detained personnel.

    (8)     Smuggling operations are a major means of financing and sustaining continued hostilities in peace operations. Failure to disrupt or stop smuggling operations will hinder mission success. Special IPB emphasis must be directed toward determining—

    • Which items to focus on.
    • Techniques or disguises used.
    • Transportation assets used.
    • Identifying adaptations to US measures.

    • Specialized search techniques.
    • Identifying entry points, drop-off points, delivery sites, or locations for transshipment of contraband.

    b.     Procedures. Search procedures are as follows.

    (1)     Search of Individuals. In all search operations, leaders must emphasize the fact that anyone in an area to be searched could be an insurgent or a sympathizer. To avoid making an enemy out of a suspect who may support the host country government, searchers are tactful. The greatest caution is required during the initial handling of a person about to be searched. One member of the search team covers the other member, who makes the actual search. (FM 3-19.40 and STP 19-95B1-SM discuss the procedure for searching people.). Units may want to consider using digital cameras for photographing search operations on static observation posts or in routine searches in order to maintain a database on local nationals and to assist in future training.

    (2)     Search of Females. The enemy can use females for all types of tasks when they think searches might be a threat. To counter this, use female searchers. If female searchers are not available, use doctors, aidmen, or members of the local populace.

    (3)     Search of Vehicles. Searching of vehicles may require equipment such as detection devices, mirrors, and tools. Specially trained dogs can locate drugs or explosives. A thorough search of a vehicle is a time-consuming process, and leaders must consider the effect on the population. Use of a separate vehicle search area can help avoid unnecessary delays.

    (4)     Search of Urban Areas. These searches are also referred to as cordon and search operations. The principles, command and control, and procedures for this type of search are discussed in the following paragraph. When intelligence identifies and locates members of the insurgent infrastructure, an operation is mounted to neutralize them. This operation should be done by police acting on the warrant of a disinterested magistrate and based on probable cause. In the more violent stages of an insurgency, emergency laws and regulations may dispense temporarily with some of these legal protections. Use the least severe method to accomplish the mission adequately. Take care to preserve evidence for future legal action.

    c.     Cordon and Search. These operations require superb discipline and particular attention to detail. A cordon and search involves two incendiary processes: limiting freedom of movement and searching dwellings. These two actions provide a clear potential for negative consequences; thus, organizing cordon and search elements requires extensive mission tailoring. Commanders must always be prepared for a civil disturbance. The commander should divide the area to be searched in a built-up area into zones and assign a search party to each. The cordon consists of two parts (an outer and inner cordon). The outer cordon is usually the responsibility of the parent headquarters as it requires a considerable amount of assets to effectively control it. The outer cordon consists of a security element (to encircle the area, to prevent entrance and exit, and to secure open areas) augmented with the necessary combat multipliers (based on METT-TC) such as linguists and civil affairs specialists. The inner cordon is established by the unit assigned the search mission. The higher headquarters must also establish a reserve element to assist either element, as required (Figure 8-2 and Figure 8-3).

    (1)     Establishing the Cordon. An effective inner and outer cordon is critical to the success of the search effort. Cordons are designed to isolate the area to be searched in order to protect the forces conducting the operation. Leaders should always plan for checkpoints and or roadblocks, patrols, aerial surveillance, engineers, PSYOP, search and entry teams, MPs, and documentation teams. Integration of combat multipliers is critical to success. In remote areas, the TF may establish the cordon without being detected. The use of limited visibility aids in the establishment and security of the cordon but makes it difficult to control. The TF must enforce the ROE and should develop plans to handle detained personnel. Infantrymen accompany police and intelligence forces to identify, question, and detain suspects. Infantry may also conduct searches and assist in detaining suspects, under police supervision; their principal role, however, is to reduce any resistance that may develop and to provide security for the operation. Use of force is kept to a minimum. Deployment for the search should be rapid, especially if the enemy is still in the area to be searched. Ideally, the entire area should be surrounded at once. Observed fire covers any gaps. The security element surrounds the area while the search element moves in. Members of the security element orient mainly on people evading the search in the populated area. The security element can also cut off any insurgents trying to reinforce others within the area, isolating the search area internally and externally. Checkpoints and roadblocks are established. Subsurface routes of escape in built-up areas, such as subways and sewers, may also need to be searched and blocked.

Figure 8-2. Typical organization for search operations

Figure 8-2. Typical organization for search operations.

Figure 8-3. Conduct of a search

Figure 8-3. Conduct of a search.

    (2)     Conducting the Search. A search of a built-up area must be conducted with limited inconvenience to the populace. The search should inconvenience the populace enough for them to discourage insurgents and sympathizers from remaining in the locale but not enough to drive them to collaborate with the enemy as a result of the search. A large-scale search of a built-up area is a combined civil police and military operation. Such a search should be planned in detail and rehearsed while avoiding physical reconnaissance of the area just before the search. Aerial photographs can provide information needed about the terrain. In larger towns or cities, the local police might have detailed maps showing relative sizes and locations of buildings. As with any Army operation, mission analysis is critical. For success, the search plan must be simple and the search conducted swiftly. The search element is organized into teams. These teams can include personnel and special equipment for handling prisoners, interrogations, documentation (using a recorder with a camera), demolitions, PSYOP and civil affairs, mine detection, fires and effects, employment of scout dogs, and tunnel reconnaissance. Three basic methods are used to search the populated area.

    (a)     Assemble inhabitants in a central location if they appear to be hostile. This method provides the most control, simplifies a thorough search, denies insurgents an opportunity to conceal evidence, and allows for detailed interrogation. Depending on the objective of the search, a personnel search team may be necessary in this central location. This method has the disadvantage of taking the inhabitants away from their dwellings, thus encouraging looting which in turn engenders ill feelings. The security element is responsible for controlling the inhabitants. The search element may escort individuals back to their dwellings to be present during the search or may leave them in the central location.

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

    (c)     Control the heads of the households. The head of each household is told to remain in front of the house while everyone else in the house is brought to a central location. The security element controls the group at the central location and the heads of households and provides external security. During the search, the head of the household accompanies the search team through the house. Looting is reduced, and the head of the household sees that the search team steals nothing. This is the best method for controlling the populace during a search.

    (3)     Searching a House. The object of a house search is to look for controlled items and to screen residents to determine if any are suspected insurgents or sympathizers. A search party assigned to search an occupied building should consist of at least one local policeman, a protective escort for local security, and a female searcher. If inhabitants remain in the dwellings, the protective escort must isolate and secure the inhabitants during the search. Escort parties and transportation must be arranged before the search of a house. Forced entry may be necessary if a house is vacant or if an occupant refuses to allow searchers to enter. If the force searches a house containing property while its occupants are away, it should secure the house to prevent looting. Before US forces depart, the commander should arrange for the community to protect such houses until the occupants return.

    d.     Other Considerations. The reserve element is a mobile force positioned in a nearby area. Its mission is to help the search and security elements if they meet resistance beyond their ability to handle. The reserve element can replace or reinforce either of the other two elements if the need arises. Soldiers should treat any enemy material found, including propaganda signs and leaflets, as if it is booby-trapped until inspection proves it safe. Underground and underwater areas should be searched thoroughly. Any freshly excavated ground could be a hiding place. Soldiers can use mine detectors to locate metal objects underground and underwater. Reserve elements should maintain the same task organization as the cordon and search elements

    e.     Aerial Search Operations. Search units mounted in armed helicopters take full advantage of the mobility and firepower of these aircraft.

    (1)     Air mobile combat patrols conducting an aerial search reconnoiter an assigned area or route in search of enemy forces. When a patrol locates an enemy force, the patrol may engage it from the air or may land and engage it on the ground. This technique has little value in areas of dense vegetation or when a significant man-portable air defense threat is present.

    (2)     Air mobile combat patrols should be used only when sufficient intelligence is available to justify their use. Even then, ground operations should be used along with such patrols.

    f.     Apprehended Insurgents. Certain principles govern actions taken when insurgents desert or surrender voluntarily and indicate, at least in part, their attitudes and beliefs have changed. In this situation they are confined only for screening and processing. They are kept separate from prisoners who exhibit no change in attitude.

    g.     Captured Insurgents. Captured insurgents who retain their attitude of opposition are turned over to the host nation civil authorities.


Roadblocks and checkpoints are among the most visible and important actions performed during stability operations (Figure 8-4). Checkpoints in proximity of "zones of separation" offer a myriad of planning concerns. There is a high potential for junior leaders and soldiers to make decisions with international importance—in essence a number of "junior ambassadors." Therefore, establishment and continual analysis of standing operating procedures is critical to ensuring equity and support. A related aspect of populace and resource control mentioned previously is the control of transportation. Individuals and vehicles may be stopped during movement to assist in individual accountability or capture of enemy personnel or to control the trafficking of restricted material. The ability to establish roadblocks and checkpoints is an important aspect of movement control and area denial. The fundamentals of searches, discussed previously, applies to roadblocks and checkpoints also. (FM 7-10 provides more information about roadblocks and checkpoints.)

    a.     Roadblocks and checkpoints help prevent smuggling operations and stop the movement of known or suspected insurgents. They should be manned by host-nation police (when applicable) in conjunction with UN monitors to stop vehicles and pedestrians and conduct searches as required by conditions. They must take care to maintain legitimacy by not targeting specific groups. Either host country or US Army combat forces defend these roadblocks and checkpoints from enemy attack. If police strength is insufficient for the number of positions required, the Army can operate them. Whenever US Army forces operate roadblocks and checkpoints, host country police or other forces should be present to conduct the actual stop and search. US forces should establish communications with other elements of the site but should also remain in contact with their own chain of command. The same principles apply to waterways as to landlines of communication.

    b.     Establish roadblocks in locations where approaching traffic cannot observe them until it is too late to withdraw and escape. When possible, roadblock locations must be periodically relocated in order to mitigate bypassing and targeting by enemy forces. Narrow defiles, tunnels, bridges, sharp curves, and other locations that channel traffic are the preferred sites. Constructed, nonexplosive obstacles slow traffic, restrict it to a single lane, and bring it to a halt. An area off the main road should be used to conduct a detailed search of suspect vehicles and people and to avoid unduly delaying innocent traffic. A small reserve using hasty field fortifications in nearby defended areas should provide immediate support to operating personnel in case of attack. A larger reserve, which serves a number of posts, should be capable of rapid reinforcement.

    c.     US forces should fill the reserve role in combined operations with host nation personnel. The reserve is vulnerable to being set up or ambushed, especially if an enemy has observed rehearsals. The enemy may hit multiple locations simultaneously to test responsiveness or to aid his future planning.

    d.     Outside of normal military concerns of planning, reconnaissance, security, and actions on the objective, units must have knowledge of civil authorities, factional boundaries, significant cultural sites, linguist use, and knowledge of the local populous and geography. Further, it is imperative that leaders who are responsible for checkpoints appraise higher headquarters of problems and render specific recommendations for mission accomplishment.

Figure 8-4. Physical layout of roadblock

Figure 8-4. Physical layout of roadblock.



In order to prevent or mitigate a civil disturbance, units must remain flexible in order to change tactics as necessary. Units must use speed in deployment, arrest, apprehension, and reaction to change through proper positioning of forces. Effective use of combat multipliers such as PSYOP, civil affairs, host nation police, and linguists can prevent many incidents from happening or escalating to dangerous levels. A disciplined appearance of force is often more effective than using the force. The mnemonic device of IDMM (isolate, dominate, maintain, multidimensional-multiecheloned) can assist units in handling civil disturbances:

    • Isolate the trouble spot in time and space from outside influence or interaction.
    • Dominate the situation through an appropriate show of force and control of information
    • Maintain situational understanding with aerial assets, NGOs, HUMIT, PSYOP, civil affairs, and linguists and disseminate information
    • Multidimensional-multiecheloned actions are key; for example, use CA to negotiate and NGOs to remind parties of possible consequences.


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 Army activities in support operations most often involve setting the conditions that facilitate the ability of civil authorities or NGOs to provide the required direct support to the affected population. Support operations missions vary by type and are further differentiated by the specific factors of METT-TC. Support operations usually require the TF to perform common tactical missions and tasks but also call on them to execute unique missions and tasks.


The types of support operations are domestic support operations (DSOs) and foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA) operations. DSOs and FHAs share four forms of operations which occur to varying degrees in both: relief operations, support to incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive consequence management (CBRNE-CM), support to civil law enforcement, and community assistance. The US Army conducts DSOs in the US and its territories, using active and reserve components. It conducts foreign humanitarian assistance operations abroad and under the direction of a combat commander. Since domestic emergencies can require Army forces to respond with multiple capabilities and services, they 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 another civilian agency. DSOs also include those activities and measures taken by DOD to foster mutual assistance and support between DOD and any civil government agency in planning or preparedness for, or in the application of resources for 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. The military assistance to civil authorities 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. However, 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)     DSOs focus on the condition of all types of 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.

    (4)     At the onset of DSOs that involve the provision of medical care, criteria for eligibility of care must be established and disseminated to all medical units and elements. A determination must also be made as to when this eligibility ends and when the patients once again become the responsibility of the local medical infrastructure. Further, a determination must be made as to what supplies and services are reimbursable and what government agency or organization is responsible for this reimbursement. For additional information on domestic support operations pertaining to disaster assistance, see FMs 100-19 and 8-42, and the Federal Response Plan for Public Law 93-288, as amended.

    b.     Foreign Humanitarian Assistance. US forces conduct FHA operations outside 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, nongovernmental organizations, private voluntary organizations, and unaffiliated individuals. The majority of foreign humanitarian assistance operations closely resemble domestic support operations. 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 its government are normally classified as stability rather than support operations. 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, nor equipped for support operations. Instead, Army 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 assets.

    a.     Rules of Engagement. The ROE established for support operations must be consistent with training and equipment capabilities. For example, shoot to wound is not an effective instruction unless soldiers have been trained in this skill. When necessary, command guidance clarifies the ROE. While the rules must be tailored to the situation, TF commanders should observe that nothing in such rules negates their obligation to take all necessary and appropriate action in unit self-defense, allowing soldiers to protect themselves from deadly threats. The ROE rule out the use of some weapons and impose special limitations on the use of weapons. Examples include the requirements for warning shots, single shot engagements, and efforts to wound rather than kill. A TF deploying for support operations trains its soldiers to interpret and apply the ROE effectively. It is imperative for everyone to understand the ROE since small-unit leaders and individual soldiers must make ROE decisions promptly and independently.

    b.     Multiple and Overlapping Activities. In most situations, Army forces involved in support operations, both DSOs and FHA, execute a combination of multiple overlapping activities. Forces 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 squads, platoons, 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, training, and a thorough understanding of mission outcome are necessary for effective support operations.

    c.     Mission Training. A sound foundation in combat mission training and in basic military skills and discipline underpins the TF's ability to perform support operations missions, but many of the key individual and collective skills differ and must be trained for deliberately. TFs 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. They also train leaders and soldiers for unique tasks necessary to the certain types of operation that they are assigned.

    d.     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 TF, 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. A TF's activities consist in large part of directing the operations of their company teams and supporting units within a sector or AO in accordance with a detailed operations order.


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 to incidents involving CBRNE-CM.
    • 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 life-saving measures to alleviate the immediate needs of a population in crisis. It often includes the provision of medical support, food, water, medicines, clothing, blankets, shelter, and heating or cooking fuel. In some cases, it involves transportation support to move affected people from a disaster area.

    b.     Support to Incidents Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. 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 the two primary areas of response and training. Response is the immediate reaction to an attack and training includes what happens after the attack.

    (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 Department of Defense (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 WMD Incidents. The initial response to use of WMD is primarily from local assets, but sustained Army participation may be required soon afterward. The Army's capabilities in this environment are—

    • Detection.
    • Triage treatment.
    • Decontamination and medical care, including assessment.
    • MEDEVAC.
    • 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 operations, 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. Unless authorized by the President (or a presidential decision directive), 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 are unable to resolve a civil disturbance. Federal Army forces assist in restoring law and order when the magnitude of a disturbance exceeds the capabilities of local and state law enforcement agencies, including the National Guard. Army participation is to apply 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 and execution of support operations are fundamentally similar to planning, preparing, executing, and assessing offensive, defensive, and stability operations. However, while each support operation is unique, the following four broad considerations can help forces 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 battalion task force combines the usual strengths of the mounted and dismounted forces. Although it has limited numbers of medical and engineer elements, the battalion task force brings to the operation its outstanding abilities to organize and supervise operations, collect and distribute information, and communicate, as well as large numbers of highly disciplined and motivated soldiers. The following four broad imperatives that pertain to support operations help forces plan and execute support operations:

    • Provide essential support to the largest number of people.
    • Coordinate actions with 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. 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 TF 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 assistance 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 a decrease in the number of deaths caused by starvation. This is an indicator that food convoys are reaching the designated areas. These measures are situationally dependent and must be adjusted as the situation changes and 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 TF staff uses the standard Army planning process modified for use in a support environment.

    a.     Special Considerations. The TF planning staff considers the following:

    • Specialized support operations terminology in the mission and tasks assigned to the TF 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 TF's relationship to nongovernmental organizations and private voluntary organizations 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 and other restrictions on operations.
    • Terrain, weather, infrastructure, and conditions unique to the AO and the nature of the operation.
    • Security operations.
    • Availability or need for specialized units such as PA, CA, PSYOP, chemical defense, engineers, MPs, and others.

    b.     Attached Elements. TFs involved in support operations are normally reinforced with engineers and may also have troops attached. MPs, additional medics, and CA, PA, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), counterintelligence (CI), and PSYOP teams often support TFs in support operations. Since these units are not commonly part of TFs in combat operations, the staff and company team commanders 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 company teams. Additionally, if attached units do not possess FBCB2, they need liaison teams or instrumented units of the TF to accompany them.


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 command group is as great in support operations as in combat operations.

    a.     Cooperation. As in other cases, cooperation with foreign headquarters and other services or agencies imposes special requirements for training, coordination, and liaison.

    b.     Command and Control. The TF's command and control systems yield significant advantages in planning and conducting support operations. Operation of these systems depends on communications architecture provided by the brigade or by 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, then TF commanders and staff leaders need training in operating these tools. In the early and concluding stages of an operation, the signal structure may permit only limited use of ABCS systems. The TF's plan for command and control must take this into account and provide for alternate means of communication or full reliance on tactical systems. Digitized connectivity to higher levels of command and to the information support structure multiplies the effectiveness of the TF and must be established as soon as possible.

    c.     Liaison Teams. Digitally equipped liaison teams can be extremely useful in providing a common view of the situation for headquarters attached to the TF. TFs must staff their authorized liaison teams and identify their needs for additional teams as early as possible.

8-46.     MANEUVER

In support operations, where area responsibilities, movements, and control of terrain are sensitive and hazards are sometimes widely scattered, the TF needs detailed information on its AO and commonly uses detailed control measures. TF leaders must clearly delineate and ensure soldiers throughout the TF understand routes, installations, hazards, the geographical responsibilities of company teams, 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.


Intelligence collection and distribution systems facilitate support operations in the same general way they support other operations. The S2 uses the TF's organic collection assets to gather critical information on enemy or criminal forces and on the AO, according to the PIR established by the commander. The S2 then distributes intelligence to the TF as it is developed. The TF's ASAS remote workstation (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. Intelligence operations during some multinational operations will be proscribed or severely limited. In some cases, intelligence operations may be replaced with neutral, self-defensive information collection operations.


A coordinated ISR effort is as critical to the TF's success in support operations as during combat operations. Information gathering is a constant process that is guided by CCIR and is normally embodied in an information collection plan. The commander may employ scouts, sensors, patrols, engineers, and liaison teams to achieve his ISR aims. The TF scouts play a special role in ISR, but every soldier and unit in the TF has some responsibility for observing and reporting. Therefore, the TF commander's PIR must be known throughout the TF and revised as often as necessary to assure that soldiers know what information is of greatest importance.

    a.     Collection Assets. The brigade reconnaissance troop, UAVs, and other military intelligence collectors can directly support the TF commander's PIR in some cases. In any case, the TF will receive useful information from those sources.

    b.     Human Intelligence. Human intelligence is of special importance in support operations IPB and ISR. In many cases, HUMINT specialists augment the brigade. The TF S2 normally receives some support from these teams and must be knowledgeable in their employment.

8-49.     FIRE SUPPORT

Basic fire planning considerations for direct- and indirect-fire weapons remain valid. FS 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. The advanced field artillery tacticaldata system (AFATDS) gives the commander and the fire support elemlent (FSE) exceptionally clear and timely information on all aspects of FS. Fire planners in the digitized FSE must make special provisions for integrating fires from analog units, from fire support units of other armies, and from the naval and air components.


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 during FHA missions. Mobility for the force and the population is also an issue early in many support operations as roads and bridges require repair, rubble clearing, and hazardous area marking or clearing. TFs can expect heavy commitments to securing engineer operations in the early stages of operations where enemy interference is possible. Even in mature support operations, engineer operations typically remain very active. Support operations are commonly supported with attached combat engineer units as well as construction engineers and contracted civilian engineers. Several engineer companies may support a TF conducting support operations; if so, the senior engineer company commander normally serves as the TF engineer.

8-51.     AIR DEFENSE

TFs in support operations integrate air defense plans into tactical or force protection operations as the situation warrants. TFs must optimize passive defense and must nominate vulnerable sites in their AOs for ADA protection where threats exist.


Combat service support for support operations usually requires substantial tailoring to adapt to unique mission requirements; 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.     CSS Support. TFs should anticipate the support of their habitual forward support company as a minimum; the FSC may also be augmented with specialized elements for the operation.

    b.     CSS Challenges. The chief CSS challenges of support operations are to anticipate needs and to integrate nondigital units and sources into the support operation. Information 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 TF.

    c.     Health Services Support. In support operations, the TF will also deploy with its organic medical assets for support operations. In addition, the TF is augmented with a forward surgical team (FST) and an FSMT. The FSMT will not be available until after the first 96 hours of entry operations. Additional CHS assets may be task-organized to support the TF mission. Support operations may include disaster relief and refugee operations. Humanitarian and civic assistance programs must be in compliance with Title 10, United States Code, Sections 401, 401(E),(5), and Section 2551. For additional information on selected sections of Title 10, US Code, see Appendix L of FM 8-42. Also, see FM 8-42 for HSS of disaster relief or refugee operations.

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

    e.     Liaison with Civil Authorities. Nonstandard supporting relationships and close coordination with civil authorities demand use of liaison teams to assure their greatest usefulness.

8-53.     information operations

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 operation. The TF 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 TF must present its position clearly to assure that the interested public, both in the US and in the AO, understand it. The 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 TF.

NOTE: In support operations conducted within the US, PSYOP personnel and assets may assist the IO plan but will not attempt to influence the population. They will assist in the dissemination of IO messages.


The following are additional planning considerations.

    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. TF 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 and Rules of Engagement. Limitations on action from orders and ROE 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, and 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, treaty agreements, and federal, state, and foreign law. The brigade and higher staff judge advocates play important roles in planning and conducting these missions. In some cases, the JAG provides DS to the TF 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. A TF's soldiers and leaders must be sensitive to civilian concerns, media interests, and the way in which the political positions of factions within the AO affect their actions.

    e.     Situational Understanding. Superior situational understanding allows the TF commander to anticipate developments and act to prevent incidents, to protect his soldiers or the population, and to forestall greater loss or damage. Maintaining superior SU requires careful analysis of the TF's information needs and a mission-specific IPB supported by a collection plan that fully utilizes all the TF's organic and supporting assets. The analysis and control team at brigade level supports the TF commander's information needs and contributes to his SU by integrating and analyzing information collected from the brigade's various intelligence sources (HUMINT, SIGINT, UAVs, and so forth).

8-55.     pattern of operations

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

    a.     Response. As part of a response, the TF enters the affected area, normally under brigade control, and makes contact with other relief organizations. Planning for the operation, staging command posts into the area, establishing security, deploying the TF, and initiating contacts with supported activities and other parts of the relief force occur during this phase of operations. The TF may make its chief contributions in this phase. Its soldiers are usually among the first relief forces to arrive. Its command and control structure gives it robust early ability to communicate and coordinate. Further, the TF's ability to reconnoiter and gather information makes it useful in the initial efforts of 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.

    b.     Recovery. Once the TF 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 TF is fully deployed in an AO or in an assigned task. Its work includes coordination with its parent headquarters, supported groups, and other relief forces and daily allocation of its own assets to recovery tasks. The TF's 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 monitor and assist the commander in counteracting the psychological effects and preventing post traumatic stress problems associated with disaster relief work and exposure to human suffering. Unit leaders should conduct frequent after-action debriefings to allow their soldiers to talk about what they are doing and what they are seeing. Soldiers exhibiting signs of excessive stress, fatigue, or any uncharacteristic behaviors should be referred to mental health for additional stress debriefings. 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.

    c.     Restoration. Restoration is the return of normalcy to the area. As civil authorities assume full control of remaining emergency operations and normal services, the TF transfers those responsibilities to replacement agencies and begins redeployment from the area. During restoration the 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 the sequence of—

    • 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.

    a.     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. TF commanders must prepare a complete plan for establishing control of the AO that includes a concept for phased installation of signal and C2 INFOSYS. Transfer of authority from the unit in place to the arriving unit 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. Mission CCIR should guide staff specialists as they build databases and map displays to support the operation. The commander's 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. Because they create superior information, the assets of the digitized TF generally facilitate faster, more secure performance of key tasks. For instance, digitized C2 INFOSYS simplify the processes of opening routes, repairing bridges, clearing obstacles, establishing security, and imposing movement control.

    b.     Establishment of the Base of Operations. Security, support, and continuous operations are the primary considerations during the establishment of a TF base of operations. The TF must maintain security continuously and may spend its first days of operation exclusively in securing its bases.

    (1)     Occupation. During the response phase, the TF moves in accordance with the controlling headquarters' order, employing advance parties and quartering parties as necessary. The TF may move to an assembly area in the affected area initially or may 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 TF. The TF must complete these preliminary tasks as quickly as possible in order to assume the mission promptly. In some cases, the TF must defer operations until it completes such tasks.

    (2)     Battalion Task Force Focus. The TF commander, the principal staff officers, and the company team 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 TF during response.

    (3)     Security. Security of the TF is important during all phases of the operation but especially during arrival and organization. In addition to direct threats to the soldiers of the unit, 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.

    (4)     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 TF's special vulnerabilities in its first days of the mission.

    (5)     Equipment Substitution. In some cases, high-mobility, multi-purpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs) or other light wheeled equipment replaces the heavy equipment of the TF to facilitate movement, limit the damages to infrastructure, or present a less threatening appearance. In the case of such substitution, driver and maintenance training is necessary well before the TF assumes the mission. The TF may have to modify CSS to support the new fleet. If the TF replaces an analog unit or a different size organization, it may have to modify base camp layouts or even reduce the number of operating bases.

    c.     Maintenance of Support Operations. Steady-state mission performance differs in each instance. Support operations have a varied duration and characteristically orient on relieving crises in an area or population.

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

    (2)     Readiness. During some support operations, the TF 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 continually review their operations to detect patterns, vulnerabilities, or complacency that an opponent might exploit.

    d.     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.

    (1)     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 commander or the other authority assuming responsibility. This procedure entails transfer of databases, maps, inventories, records, and equipment. In cases where the TF 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.

    (2)     Without Transfer of Control. If the TF leaves the AO without replacement, it must plan for an orderly, secure departure that protects the force throughout the operation and sustains sufficient C2 INFOSYS in the AO until withdrawal is complete. In redeployment, force protection and accountability for soldiers, systems, and materiel are always of concern.


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

    a.     Mission Focus. Because of their size and resources, company teams 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 TF commander may designate a company team as the reserve, position a company team to defend or secure the AO, or discontinue most support operations tasks and position all his company teams in a tactical assembly area, 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 companies, along with the preparation of contingency plans.

    d.     Maintenance of COP. The TF's ability to maintain current information; distribute information, orders, and graphics; coordinate fires, aviation, and close air support; direct CSS precisely; and gain information dominance facilitate its transition from support operations to combat. By maintaining current contingency plans, alert staffs and commanders, and well-trained and informed soldiers, the TF can meet combat challenges ably on short notice.


The battalion task force 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 squads, platoons, 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 TF's ability to perform support operations missions. However, many of the key individual and collective skills differ and must be trained for deliberately. TFs 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 specific 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 a TF's METL unless the TF has been specifically assigned a support operations mission or its commander has determined that the likelihood of such assignment warrants dedicated training. Training for support operations, therefore, 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, in-country orientation, and leader reconnaissance of the AO. Classes on the AO and the mission, training in the ROE and in use of special equipment, and familiarization with the other organizations present in the area may be part of this training. Reviews of Army lessons learned and preparation of families and the rear detachment also accompany this training.

    c.     Immediate Response. In the event of an emergency or other time-constrained event, the commander will need to respond immediately to mission requirements. In cases such as Hurricane Andrew and the Rwandan relief mission, commanders relied on standing operating procedures, general military skills, and the discipline of their troops. Conditions vary from case to case in this kind of reaction, but commanders can generally draw on Army lessons learned, general purpose TTPs, and maps prepared for training and intelligence from the projected AO to identify the most critical training requirements. The TF must address these in order of priority as time allows. Platoon and squad 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 added to the TF (CA, PSYOP, and PA are common). Unfamiliar organizations may be added to the task organization and the company teams, and platoons of the TF may be re-equipped and partially reorganized to meet mission requirements or to conform to mission requirements. In such cases, conducting staff drills, learning to operate new equipment, and practicing operations in new unit configurations must figure into TF and company team training plans.


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 firefighting, flood control, hazardous material clean-up, riot control, protection of endangered groups or individuals, assistance to civilian law enforcement officials, and resettlement actions.


Almost all support operations missions also require—

    • 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 CS and CSS operations to the requirements of the mission.
    • Understanding and applying ROE.
    • Providing for force protection.
    • Conducting effective media relations.
    • Collecting information.


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