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Appendix E


This appendix discusses liaison principles and the responsibilities of liaison officers and parties. It addresses requirements distinct to deployment operations and the unified action environment. It includes liaison checklists and an example outline for a liaison officer handbook.

Liaison Fundamentals
The Liaison Officer
Liaison Elements
Liaison Practices
Liaison Responsibilities
  Sending Unit
  Receiving Unit
  During the Tour
  After the Tour
Liaison During Unified Action
  Deployment Operations
  Joint Operations
  Multinational Operations
  Interagency Operations



E-1. Liaison is that contact or intercommunication maintained between elements of military forces or other agencies to ensure mutual understanding and unity of purpose and action (JP 3-08). Liaison helps reduce the fog of war through direct communications. It is the most commonly employed technique for establishing and maintaining close, continuous physical communication between commands. Commanders use liaison during operations and normal daily activities to help facilitate communication between organizations, preserve freedom of action, and maintain flexibility. Liaison provides senior commanders with relevant information and answers to operational questions. It ensures they remain aware of the tactical situation.

E-2. Liaison activities augment the commander's ability to synchronize and focus combat power. They include establishing and maintaining physical contact and communication between elements of military forces and, as directed, nonmilitary agencies. Liaison activities ensure-

  • Cooperation and understanding between commanders and staffs of different headquarters.
  • Coordination on tactical matters to achieve unity of effort.
  • Understanding of implied or inferred coordination measures to achieve synchronized results.

E-3. Liaison is a tool that enhances the commander's confidence. It helps commanders overcome friction and synchronize operations. Effective liaison assures commanders that that subordinates understand implicit coordination.



E-4. A liaison officer (LNO) represents the commander or a staff officer. The task and its complexity determine the required qualifications. At higher echelons, the complexity of operations often requires an increase in the rank required for LNOs. (See figure E-1.)


Recommended Rank








First lieutenant

Figure E-1. Senior Liaison Officer Rank by Echelon


E-5. Commanders use LNOs to transmit information directly, bypassing headquarters and staff layers. A trained, competent, trusted, and informed LNO (either a commissioned or noncommissioned officer) is the key to effective liaison. LNOs must have the commander's full confidence and the necessary rank and experience for the mission. Using one officer to perform a liaison mission conserves manpower while guaranteeing the consistent, accurate flow of information. However, continuous operations require a liaison team.

E-6. The LNO, normally a special staff officer, is the personal representative of the commander and has access to him consistent with his duties. However, for routine matters, LNOs work for and receive direction from the chief of staff (COS) or (at lower echelons) the executive officer (XO).

E-7. The LNO's parent unit is the sending unit; the unit to which the LNO is sent is the receiving unit. An LNO normally remains at the receiving unit until recalled. Because LNOs represent the commander, they must be able to-

  • Understand how their commander thinks and be able to interpret the commander's messages.
  • Convey their commander's intent and guidance, mission, and concept of operations.
  • Represent their commander's position.

E-8. The professional capabilities and personal characteristics of an effective LNO encourage confidence and cooperation with the commander and staff of the receiving unit. LNOs-

  • Know the sending unit's mission; tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP); organization; capabilities; and communications equipment.
  • Appreciate and understand the receiving unit's TTP, organization, capabilities, mission, doctrine, staff procedures, and customs.
  • Are familiar with-
    • Requirements for and purpose of liaison.
    • The liaison system and its reports, documents, and records.
    • Liaison team training.
  • Observe the established channels of command and staff functions.
  • Are of sufficient rank to represent their commander effectively to the receiving unit's commander and staff.
  • Are trained in their functional responsibilities.
  • Are tactful.
  • Possess the necessary language expertise.



E-9. Commanders organize liaison elements based on the mission and echelon. Common ways to organize liaison elements include-

  • An LNO alone or with minimum support.
  • A liaison team composed of an LNO, a liaison noncommissioned officer in charge, clerical personnel, drivers, and communications personnel with their equipment.
  • A liaison detachment of several teams, with expertise in specialized areas, such as intelligence, operations, and combat service support.
  • Couriers (messengers) responsible for the secure physical transmission and delivery of documents and material.



E-10. When possible, liaison is reciprocal between higher, lower, supporting, supported, and adjacent organizations (that is, each one sends a liaison element to the other). It must be reciprocal when US forces are placed under control of a headquarters of a different nationality and vice versa, or when brigade-sized and larger formations of different nationalities are adjacent. When liaison is not reciprocal, the following practices apply:

  • Higher-echelon units establish liaison with lower echelons.
  • Units on the left establish liaison with units on their right.
  • Supporting units establish liaison with units they support.
  • Units of the same echelon and units in the rear establish liaison with those to their front.
  • Units not in contact with the enemy establish liaison with units that are in contact with the enemy.
  • During a passage of lines, the passing unit establishes liaison with the stationary unit.
  • During a relief in place, the relieving unit establishes liaison with the unit being relieved.

E-11. If liaison is broken, both units act to reestablish it. However, the primary responsibility rests with the unit originally responsible for establishing liaison.



E-12. Both the sending and receiving units have liaison responsibilities before, during, and after operations.



E-13. The sending unit's most important tasks include selecting and training the soldiers best qualified for liaison duties. Liaison personnel should have the characteristics and qualifications discussed in paragraphs E-5 through E-9. Figure E-2 shows a sample outline for an LNO handbook that addresses knowledge and skills LNOs require.

  • Table of contents, with the sending unit's proponency statement.
  • Purpose statement.
  • Introduction statement.
  • Definitions.
  • Scope statement.
  • Responsibilities and guidelines for conduct.
  • Actions to take before departing from the sending unit.
  • Actions to take on arriving at the receiving unit.
  • Actions to take during liaison operations at the receiving unit.
  • Actions to take before departing from the receiving unit.
  • Actions to take upon return to the sending unit.
  • Sample questions. LNOs should be able to answer the following questions:
    • Does the sending unit have a copy of the receiving unit's latest OPLAN, OPORD, and FRAGOs?
    • Does the receiving unit's plan support the plan of the higher headquarters? This includes logistics as well as the tactical concept. Are MSRs and RSRs known? Can the CSR support the receiving unit's plan?
    • What are the receiving unit's CCIR? At what time, phase, or event are they expected to change? Are there any items the CCIR do not contain that the sending unit can help you with?
    • Which sending commander decisions are critical to executing the receiving unit operation? What are the "no-later-than" times for those decisions?
    • What assets does the unit need to acquire to accomplish its mission? How would they be used? How do they support attaining the more senior commander's intent? Where can the unit obtain them? from higher headquarters? other Services? multinational partners?
    • How are aviation assets (rotary and fixed-wing) being used?
    • How can the LNO communicate with the sending unit? Are telephones, radios, facsimile machines, computers, and other INFOSYS available? Where are they located? Which ones are secure?
    • What terrain has been designated as key? decisive?
    • What weather conditions would have a major impact on the operation?
    • What effect would a chemical environment have on the operation?
    • What effect would large numbers of refugees or EPWs have on the receiving unit's operations?
    • What is the worse thing that could happen during execution of the current operation?
    • How would you handle a passage of lines by other units through your own force?
    • What conditions would cause your unit to request OPCON of a multinational force?
    • If your unit is placed under OPCON of a larger multinational force, or given OPCON of a smaller such force, what special problems would it present?
    • If going to a multinational force headquarters, how do the tactical principles and command concepts of that force differ from those of US forces?
    • What HN support is available to the sending unit? IRs?
  • Required reports (from higher and sending units' SOPs)
  • Packing list:
    • Credentials (including permissive jump orders, if qualified).
    • Forms: DA Form 1594 and other blank forms as required.
    • References.
      • Excerpts of higher and sending headquarters' orders and plans.
      • Sending unit SOP.
      • Sending unit's command diagrams and recapitulation of major systems. The unit MTOE, unit status report (if its classification allows), and mission briefings can be used. The G3 (S3) or the force modernization officer are excellent sources of these.
    • Computers and other INFOSYS required for information and data exchange.
    • Signal operating instructions extract.
    • Security code encryption device.
    • Communications equipment, including remote FM radio equipment.
    • Sending unit telephone book.
    • List of commanders and staff officers.
    • Telephone calling (credit) card.
    • Movement table.
    • Administrative equipment (for example, pens, paper, scissors, tape, and hole punch).
    • Map and chart equipment (for example, pens, pins, protractor, straight edge, scale, distance counter, acetate, and unit markers).
    • Tent (camouflage net, cots, stove, as appropriate).
    • Foreign phrase book and dictionary.
    • Local currency as required.

    Figure E-2. Example Outline of a Liaison Officer Handbook


    E-14. The sending unit provides a description of the liaison party (number and type of vehicles and personnel, call signs, and radio frequencies) to the receiving unit. The LNO or team must also have-

    • Identification and appropriate credentials for the receiving unit.
    • Appropriate security clearance, courier orders, transportation, and communications equipment.
    • The SOP outlining the missions, functions, procedures, and duties of the sending unit's liaison section.
    • Individual weapons and ammunition.
    • Rations for the movement to the receiving unit.

    E-15. Figure E-3 lists tasks for liaison personnel to accomplish before departing the sending unit.

  • Understand what the sending commander wants the receiving commander to know.
  • Receive a briefing from operations, intelligence, and other staff elements on current and future operations.
  • Receive and understand the tasks from the sending unit staff.
  • Obtain the correct maps, traces, and overlays.
  • Arrange for transport, communications and cryptographic equipment, codes, signal instructions, and the challenge and password-including their protection and security. Arrange for replacement of these items, as necessary.
  • Complete route-reconnaissance and time-management plans so the LNO party arrives at the designated location on time.
  • Ensure that liaison personnel and interpreters have security clearances and access appropriate for the mission.
  • Verify that the receiving unit received the liaison team's security clearances and will grant access to the level of information the mission requires.
  • Verify courier orders.
  • Know how to destroy classified information in case of an emergency during transit or at the receiving unit.
  • Inform the sending unit of the LNO's departure time, route, arrival time, and, when known, the estimated time and route of return.
  • Pick up all correspondence designated for the receiving unit.
  • Conduct a radio check.
  • Know the impending moves of the sending unit and the receiving unit.
  • Bring INFOSYS needed to support LNO operations.
  • Pack adequate supplies of classes I and III for use in transit.
  • Arrange for the liaison party's departure.
  • Figure E-3. Liaison Checklist-Before Departing the Sending Unit



    E-16. The receiving unit is responsible for-

    • Providing the sending unit with the LNO's reporting time, place, point of contact, recognition signal, and password.
    • Providing details of any tactical movement and logistic information relevant to the LNO's mission, especially while the LNO is in transit.
    • Ensuring that the LNO has access to the commander, the COS (XO), and other officers for important matters.
    • Giving the LNO an initial briefing and allowing the LNO access necessary to remain informed of current operations.
    • Protecting the LNO while at the receiving unit.
    • Publishing a standing operating procedure (SOP) outlining the missions, functions, procedures, and duties of the LNO or team at the receiving unit.
    • Providing access to communications equipment (and operating instructions, as needed) when the LNO needs to communicate with the receiving unit's equipment.
    • Providing administrative and logistic support.



    E-17. Figure E-4 summarizes liaison duties during the tour. LNOs also inform the receiving unit's commander or staff of the sending unit's needs or requirements. The LNO's ability to rapidly clarify questions about the sending unit can keep the receiving unit from wasting planning time. During the liaison tour, LNOs-

    • Arrive at the designated location on time.
    • Promote cooperation between the sending and receiving unit.
    • Accomplish their mission without becoming actively involved in the receiving unit's staff procedures or actions; however, they may assist higher staffs in war-gaming.
    • Follow the receiving unit's communication procedures.
    • Actively obtain information without interfering with receiving unit operations.
    • Facilitate understanding of the sending unit's commander's intent.
    • Help the sending unit's commander assess current and future operations.
    • Remain informed of the sending unit's current situation and provide that information to the receiving unit's commander and staff.
    • Expeditiously inform the sending unit of the receiving unit's upcoming missions, tasks, and orders.
    • Ensure the sending unit has a copy of the receiving unit's SOP.
    • Inform the receiving unit's commander or COS (XO) of the content of reports transmitted to the sending unit.
    • Keep a record of their reports, listing everyone met (including each person's name, rank, duty position, and telephone number) as well as primary operators and their telephone numbers.
    • Attempt to resolve issues within the receiving unit before involving the sending unit.
    • Notify the sending unit promptly if unable to accomplish the liaison mission.
    • Report their departure to the receiving unit's commander at the end of their mission.

  • Arrive at least two hours before any scheduled briefings.
  • Check in with security and complete any required documentation.
  • Present your credentials to the COS (XO).
  • Arrange for an "office call" with the commander.
  • Meet the coordinating and special staff officers.
  • Notify the sending unit of arrival.
  • Visit staff elements, brief them on the sending unit's situation, and collect information from them.
  • Deliver all correspondence designated for the receiving unit.
  • Annotate on all overlays the security classification, title, map scale, grid intersection points, effective date-time group, date-time group received, and from whom received.
  • Pick up all correspondence for the sending unit when departing the receiving unit.
  • Inform the receiving unit of your departure time, return route, and expected arrival time at the sending unit.
  • Figure E-4. Liaison Duties-During the Liaison Tour



    E-18. After returning to the sending unit, LNOs promptly transmit the receiving unit's requests to the sending unit's commander or staff, as appropriate. They also brief the COS (XO) on mission-related liaison activities and prepare written reports, as appropriate. Figure E-5 lists tasks to perform after completing a liaison tour.

    E-19. Accuracy is paramount. Effective LNOs provide clear, concise, complete information. If the accuracy of information is not certain, they quote the source and include the source in the report. LNOs limit their remarks to mission-related observations.

  • Deliver all correspondence.
  • Brief the COS (XO) and the appropriate staff elements.
  • Prepare the necessary reports.
  • Clearly state what you did and did not learn from the mission.
  • Figure E-5. Liaison Duties-After the Liaison Tour



    E-20. Deployment, joint, multinational, and interagency operations require greater liaison efforts than most other operations.



    E-21. Deployment operations create an increased need for liaison. Unfamiliarity with the area of operations requires extensive research for staff estimates. Some operations require tight security, which restricts access or dissemination of information and affects the deployment schedule. New command and control relationships and newly task-organized organizations may result in slower staff coordination and actions due to unfamiliarity with SOPs and unit equipment and soldiers. Effective liaison improves commanders' situational understanding and reduces the possibility of conflicting guidance, frequent planning changes, and inefficient execution of deployment tasks. During deployment, LNOs become critical information conduits.

    E-22. Effective LNOs understand their commander's information requirements (IRs), especially the commander's critical information requirements (CCIR). IRs during deployment might include-

    • The type of transportation the unit needs for deployment and resupply.
    • The information systems (INFOSYS) and intelligence products available.
    • The level and extent of protection the unit needs as it arrives, disembarks, and prepares for operations.
    • Staging area requirements.
    • The combat service support that the Army component of a joint force must provide to other Service components.
    • Local tactical intelligence products otherwise unavailable.
    • Unit movement officer responsibilities.



    E-23. Current joint INFOSYS do not meet all operational requirements. Few Service INFOSYS are interoperable. Army liaison teams require INFOSYS that can rapidly exchange information between commands to ensure Army force operations are synchronized with operations of the joint force and its Service components.



    E-24. Army forces often operate as part of multinational forces. Mutual confidence is the key to making these multinational operations successful. Liaison during multinational operations includes explicit coordination of doctrine and TTP. It requires patience and tact during personal interactions. Thorough understanding of the strategic, operational, and tactical aims of the international effort is needed. Special communication and liaison arrangements may be necessary to address cultural differences and sensitivities, and ensure explicit understanding throughout the multinational force. (See FM 3-16.)



    E-25. Army forces may participate in interagency operations across the spectrum of conflict. Frequently, Army forces conduct peacetime operations under the leadership and control of civilian governmental agencies. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has overall charge of federal disaster relief within the United States and its territories and possessions. Interagency operations may lack unity of command. All governmental agencies may be working toward a common goal but not under a single authority. In such situations, effective liaison is essential to achieving unity of effort.

    E-26. Some missions require coordination with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). No overarching interagency doctrine delineates or dictates the relationships and procedures governing all agencies, departments, and organizations in interagency operations. Effective liaison elements work toward establishing mutual trust and confidence, continuously coordinating actions to achieve cooperation and unity of effort. (See also JP 3-08.)


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